Bounty: Summer Solstice Recovery Gals Art Exchange

A card made from recycling one of my mindful strokes exercises.

I wasn’t going to participate in the exchange this quarter as I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed lately, and I’ve especially been feeling anxious. As someone who didn’t used to have panic attacks, I’ve been having those on a regular basis, especially while driving. It has been terrifying for me at times, and I have felt lost, but also have had people reach out to me who have also had anxiety, and that leads me into the whole theme of this round of the exchange – community.

My partner was looking for a partner, and had missed the deadline, and I felt a calling inside to partner with her. She is someone I respect very much, and always enjoy interactions with her.

After having a series of panic attacks, and my Dr. not having any resolution for me, I felt led to do a week-long meditation challenge at Mind Oasis, inspired by a fellow Unruffled, Jane Coburn, and a Mind Oasis teacher, here is an interview with her. I haven’t been able to, nor do I want to stop, so as of now I’ve been doing it every day for over a month, sometimes 2-3 times a day, and it has truly reset my nervous system. I don’t find myself anxious or angry or frustrated as much as I used to be. It’s truly been life changing, I highly recommend their community meditation, and their community meditation is a free offering- they are a not-for-profit.

For the summer solstice Recovery Gals Art Exchange the theme was Bounty.  I immediately thought of treasure, and of how I’ve always had a stash.  A stash of words, images, postcards, it’s my inspiration stash. My sister made me this gift box many years ago that I’ve used for at least 20 years now that I use to collect what my mom liked to call “Ephemera”.

Envelope to hold Ephemera that my mom gave me.

I wanted to create an inspiration box for my partner.  I started with, ironically, a container from Brumate, which is a company that is designed to hold beverages typically made with alcohol – I didn’t’ realize this when I bought my “toddy” hot drink holder, but after seeing how their logo has a wine glass in it, and they sell other canisters for alcoholic beverages, I put it together. 🙂  So it was fun to paint over that logo with black. 

Then I took art tissue paper from Jane Davenport and mod podged it.  I added some flowers to the top, and inside I added different bits of inspiration for Patty – some bits of art, garland, old artwork, cards, and blank mandalas.

But then my inspiration grew to the size of a labyrinth.  I took a class with Maritza Parra called Doodle your Emotions, and in doing an exercise I ended up drawing a likeness of my partner. The exercise was to draw a figure in a dark space, so far under the ground there was only darkness. Then you draw a single flower coming out of the soil, with roots connecting to the figure. I realized that what our true bounty is, especially in the recovery space, is our community.  Johann Hari said that the opposite of addiction is connection. Here is a link to the Ted talk.

“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but you’ve actually been planted.”

Christine Caine

The Recovery Gal’s Art Exchange (“RGAE”) was created by Tammi Salas and Sondra Primeaux, the hosts of the Unruffled podcast, and we have such a tight knit community, they’ve had weekly Sunday morning calls during the pandemic, and recently celebrated a year of these calls.  These calls have been a lifeline for me and many others, and I had an image of a labyrinth come up during meditation.

The image that came to mind was a labyrinth and how in Greek mythology, Theseus used string given to him by Ariadne to find his way out of the labyrinth and slay the minotaur, and I thought to myself how we are all the lifeline to each other, and we hold the string.  This is powerful. We can pull each other out of a dark place.  We are the way out.  I saw an ocean during this meditation, never-ending, and a string as the escape.

“No Man is a Failure who has Friends.”

Clarence the angel to George Bailey

I drew a shell to symbolize the labyrinth and used Zentangle to decorate it. This is another mindfulness exercise, I love getting lost in the design of a Zentangle. 

Then I wanted to create a beautiful ocean of waves for the shell to sit in, but I have realized that I am not good at realistic waves.  So I ended up getting frustrated and took a spray bottle and sprayed the water, and I liked that effect as it sprayed the water up, and it looked like a storm. 

Then I took beautiful string I had, that was laced with gold, and used that for the string.  It reminded me of the Girl Scout song, “Make New Friends, But Keep the Old, One is Silver and the Other Gold.”

I wasn’t sure how this would turn out, so I used a photo copy of the shell for the ocean piece, and used the one done on watercolor paper to paint with colors of the sun, to represent the solstice.

“Always visualize your soul as vast, spacious and plentiful. This is impossible to exaggerate. The soul’s capacity far transcends our imagination. The sun at the center of this place radiates to every part.”

Saint Teresa of Avila

The above quote was shared from Jane Coburn.

I started a sober horror club called Sober As A Zombie, and we have regular movie viewings, and we also have a book club. (if you’re interested in joining PM me) We are currently reading “The Ritual” by Adam Nevill, and the main characters get lost in a forest in Sweden. The forest, quite hauntingly, swallows them up in a sense. This reminded me again of a labyrinth and I was inspired to paint some rocks with the labyrinth on them. (P.S. here is the site I used for reference on how to draw a labyrinth.)

First, I went on a walk with Bonez to find some rocks.

I found some labyrinth inspiration along the way.

Then I washed them, painted them with acrylic paint and used the posca pens to create the labyrinth. I painted a tin as the receptacle for the rocks. I will be sending some labyrinth friendship rocks to other sober friends as well.

Lastly, I wanted to create something personal for Patty, and she has this amazing art as her profile picture for her social media. I wanted to use that somehow, and I liked the idea of a labyrinth behind her.

I printed out the photo, and cut out the figure. I then took a frame I’ve been wanting to use, and I painted over it with black.

And I drew a labyrinth with Posca pens (I love these!)

Next I picked some text that I thought went with the picture, and I gave her a silver mirrored halo. I used techniques I learned in Tammi Salas‘ Proof of Life course.

I love this exchange, and I always learn a lot about myself and life by doing it. Feeling super grateful for my friends, for this exchange, and for life right now.

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