On with the happiness journal

My Altered Book: Work in Progress - Happy and Hysterically Happy

One of the problems I’ve had with the altered book is that I cannot drench it in too much water so watercolor has to be applied sparingly from here on, and not without protecting the spine by adding a layer of masking tape.  But I like working with watercolor.  So here’s the work around.

Last night I experimented on painting watercolor on some adhesive labels, printing the outline of letters and cutting them out.  (Yes, letter by letter.)  I actually liked how it came out.

It takes some effort to cut each letter but it was worth the effort.  I also plastered them onto the page without any lined guides or anything.  I like the casual “feel” of the piece.

I am actually thinking I’ll be journaling soon.  Up to this point, I’ve been creating journaling pages and journal prompts by plastering happiness quotes on the various layouts in the book.  The idea is for me to have a book to write about happy thoughts, memories and occasions.  This book is supposed to serve as an anchor during those times when challenges come my way, and I need a ‘reminder’ of the good and all that I’ve been blessed with.

Writing in a journal used to be a means for me to air out my mood or thought of the moment, but this journal is special because it focuses on the positive.  Working on its pages has actually afforded me a daily exercise of browsing for quotes on happiness, which in turn have brought a smile to my face and to my heart.

In the every day struggle of life, we often forget that we have been so blessed, and I am only human to admit that I need a reminder every now and again.

My Altered Book: Work in Progress Cut Out Letters - HAPPINESS

Meanwhile, my multi-page layout is “getting there”.  I’m still “repairing some pages, but I’m actually seeing the word “pop out”.  I’ve sort of stopped a layout or two after this and have concentrated on sprucing up the pages before it.

Another day ended, and another week ALMOST ended. Friday. (That made me smile.) I just wish this headache that’s crowding my head would go away. I’m glad I have a ride home — although it means a stop at the Filipino restaurant for dinner and maybe some supplies from the Filipino store — the car as against a nap on the express bus when I’m feeling like I’m feeling is a welcome respite.

Back to my altered book. I am going to do some “repairs” on the pages I’ve been working on. I completed another multi-page layout today (the set with the tags) by putting a quotation on each spread. They came out rather nicely and made the pages “journal entry ready”. (Pictures tomorrow.) I also love the set of quotes I grabbed from my now favorite quotations webside, The Quote Garden.

My swaps have been put on hold for the moment, but I will be busy writing a few postcards tonight. The Artist Trading Cards will have to wait until the weekend.

The only thing I don’t like about the evenings is that I usually get the urge to work on the altered book as I wind down closer to midnight. So sometimes when I start painting at 11:30pm perhaps, I don’t finish until a few minutes after midnight. I usually just let the layout dry anyway until the next morning.

Working on the altered book has really helped me to focus on the positive. There are moments at the start of the day when negative or heavy thoughts threaten to crowd my heart, and all I have to do is reach out for the book and open to the page of quotes and read two or three of them for a nudge to think about upbeat thoughts. It’s like an extra shot of espresso on the morning commute or anytime during the day.

Ten-minute blog post on "Happy"

It’s 11:30PM and I’m tired, but I thought I’d blog before hitting the sack because it has been a day full of “happy”.

Happy that I’ve arranged my jewelry making supplies organizers into a neat stack in one of the closets — and keeping my fingers crossed that I can get creating again.. soon!

Happy to have had lunch with my cousin, Mia, who has moved to New York.  It always feels good to be with family — even if among her three sisters, Mia, being the youngest, must have the foggiest memories of me.  That’s the advantage of being older, though — I remember more.  Lunch at Bryant Park Grill — and a date in the works.

Happy to have finished my first ever artist trading card.  I’m still pretty nervous about sending this off for my first ever ATC swap, but I figured waiting and not doing anything is not going to make me better at it.  (More on this at a later time..)   Creating I go.

Happy to continue to be creating new layouts in my happiness journal.  How much happier can you get than a pink rose bouquet on a two-page spread?  (Now trying to think of a graphic to use in the next spread which is an almost teal or teal blue.)

Ten minutes are up.. More tomorrow.

My Altered Book: HAPPY - Multi-leaf layout

Scraps and My "Happiness" Journal: A Happy Life

I hate throwing away paper.  In fact I’ve been rather careful saving the bits and pieces of My Altered Book (a.k.a. My Happiness Journal) that I’ve been cutting out.  They might come in handy for “repairs” or do-overs, or I might need them for a totally unrelated layout.  Paper is paper.  When I like working with a certain “surface” or texture, I will save even the cut-outs.

I have painted flowers on such scrap papers with watercolor, drawn and defined them with a sign pen and then cut them out.  The idea is to use these flowers (most of them cartoon-like and whimsical) as embellishments for the “happy” pages of my book.  While I was doing these flowers, I was rather pleased with the way they came out and I am seriously thinking of doing a video of how I produced these embellishments.  Nothing so out of the ordinary, but rather a video for non-artists like myself to show that hey, we CAN do this, too, even if we don’t have the skill and talent of those artists whose works and layouts we drool over.

I even finished a card that is now on its way to my dear, dear friend P.  Watercolor background, and a collage of layered watercolored flowers.

Hand-painted card for P

One thing I’ve learned is that it helps to browse these great pages and look at the beautiful layouts of the real artists for inspiration.  While I cannot duplicate nor equal those masterpieces, they show me what colors I can look at working with, what styles I can try — and then render them in my own way, crude as it may be.  I try not to pressure myself about producing masterpieces — I just have fun.  (I know, it’s so cliche and sounds so “American Idol” like. LOL)  And I AM having fun.  Seeing my book progressing and the layouts taking shape one by one is very fulfilling, and that by itself helps to bring a smile to my face.

The Happiness Journal is a good way to force one’s self to look for optimism.  I end up browsing at least once a day for a happy or happiness quote I can add, and when I find one, I scribble it down or work on a layout that will represent it in my happy book.  At the end of the day, you find yourself remembering those positive thoughts and it actually stays with you.  No matter what happens that upsets that positive energy as your day unfolds, or when something allows frustration to creep into your heart, the “happy” exercise stays.  And at the end of the day, there is that time when I browse the pages yet again.  Even if it’s to paint another page a special color and do a certain layout, or just so I can see if the pages are holding up, the happy vibe stays with me.

I haven’t had the chance to do much today except “retouch” a few things I’ve already put in, and stamp one layout with a floral border.  I brought home a word art “block” I rendered in Microsoft Word with very elementary word art and I want to slap it on to one of the pages to get the journaling going.  Perhaps before the night is over.

Bits and pieces.

The pages are a work in progress simultaneously.  I am even skipping a whole set of pages to work on another layout first.  I have groups of pages all relating to one layout, and yet in those pages, you will find different entries.  (Eventually, that is.)  Time to sleep…

Happy thoughts

I seem to have found a new routine which sees me writing on the bus.  I’m getting the hang of typing on the iPad and then posting later in the day.

Bryant Park - 13 Sept 2012
Bryant Park - 13 Sept 2012

Gorgeous weather in New York today.. makes me smile and look forward to the rest of my Thursday with optimism.  It helps when I go in armed with a cheery countenance because it helps me to deal with whatever challenges come my way.  And it’s going to be a busy day… and there are moods to tiptoe around.

My Altered Book: A Happy Life - Happy ThoughtsMy Altered Book is already working its magic as I opened it to my “Happy Thoughts” page.  I tried to think of other things that make me happy for additional blurbs on a “captions only layout I’m working on.. I managed to put two in yesterday: “How can you go wrong with CHOCOLATE?” and “Sleep in”.  While on the bus, I thought of “Butter Pecan Ice cream” and “Make up”.  (Made me smile again….).  And just now, “Paris”.  (That thought literally made me pause… and smile.)
I realize now that that is the essence of being able to go back to the “happy” in one’s life — it helps remind you that you have been blessed so many times to have felt happy.  And that is a gift in itself, in good times or bad.  I’ve decided I will do random layouts of “Happy thoughts” to reinforce that.  Both the creating and reading parts help me to focus on the positive, from the mundane to the profound.  We often tend to forget the things that brought a smile to our face, or that gave us that warm and fuzzy feeling of joy in our hearts. Sometimes it can be something as simple as a food we crave and love, or something else in our every day lives that lifts our spirits up.

My Altered Book: A Happy Life - All about my Little GuyI work on bits and pieces of the altered book, sometimes putting things in place permanently, and sometimes playing around with the layout by temporarily affixing the embellishment on the page.  On the layout to the left, the picture is already pasted (isn’t he gorgeous?) but the caption which I printed out on brown paper bag scraps is being held to the page by some teeny-weeny masking tape.  I keep going back to this page and see my bundle of joy smiling at me.  That is reward enough.

I want to go about my day today with a smile on my face and a light heart.  I am vowing not to let myself get aggravated by anything inconsequential.  Well, I will try. =)  (Trying to be reasonable here.. Life happens..)

First day of school, etc.

I took a day off Thursday because it was the first day of school and (1) I had to walk the boy to school as his Dad is on a business trip to Singapore, and (2) I still would’ve gone to bring him in to sort out the classroom and new teachers and help him lug all the school supplies.  In previous years, I had opted to take a half day or just come in late, but yesterday, I decided I’d cut the stress and just take a day off.  Wise decision.

We walked hand in hand to school and as always, it was a fun walk for me as I relished holding my little guy’s hand.  He is very tactile and expressive like me and loves to walk arm in arm or hand in hand.  He’s all excited about school which is good.  I’m starting to have discussions about outfits and attires for school, though, and just this week, I got an “I’ve got a rep to protect, you know” with a grin from the boy.  He’s growing up too fast!

I had lunch with my new friend, Elaine, which I will write about in another post.  I got to work on a few things and then I had a personal mishap of sorts which caused me to have very little sleep last night, and I had to resort to some major contingency planning.  So I am at work with a headache (for lack of sleep) and not functioning 100%. I ‘ll live.  The good thing is it’s Friday, and I can probably make up for the lost sleep tonight.

My altered book is coming along nicely.  Finally, a title: A HAPPY LIFE.

I have finally found my “happiness” journal which I’ve read about and have been hoping to start.  Many encourage that we keep one because it is a good go-to book for those times when life presents us with its biggest challenges.  So you chronicle the “happy” to help you during those times when you are not or when you find yourself facing one of life’s challenges.  My now favorite author Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia fame suggests that for inner balance, she recommends keeping a journal for moments of happiness as well as sadness.

My Altered Book: Title Page: A HAPPY LIFE

Speaking of which, I’ve momentarily or for a bit now, set aside my “WHAT DO I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY WANT?” writings.  But even if I no longer answer that question on a daily basis, I know the focus of my answer has shifted dramatically.  I will still write when an answer hits me, but right now, I have my sights focused on other things.  (I  can only write and draw so much!)