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White-Skied Days

Above: An outing in Germany in mid-summer, when the skies were vibrant and laughing.

The news from my corner of the world, of late, has been excited chatter about inclement weather. Roaring winds and thrashing rain are expected soon, the effects of a hurricane making its way north. I do so love storms, and I look forward to watching trees dance wildly, laughing with joy, leaves chasing each other madly like screeching, rosy-cheeked children. The skies have in past days, however, revealed nothing of what is to come. Indeed, the weather has been unbearably nondescript, neither sunny nor truly cloudy, neither warm nor cool; simply overcast with a still, white-grey sheet of sky far above. Time seems to pass so slowly in this white-skied autumn. Limbo, I called it today. Unremarkable. Unchanging.

But these skies, I find, hold a lesson. Reminiscent of a place where time stands still, they echo moments that occur in my life too frequently for my liking. Perhaps you are familiar with them: a gradual awareness that you have been doing exactly nothing for far too long, staring at your computer screen, wasting precious time. And perhaps you blame it on exhaustion or boredom or monotony or perhaps on something else entirely, but you feel out of sorts and frustrated and useless, and you are very ready for a vacation. Do you have moments like this? Please tell me you have these days, too.

This semester has been far too full of them. In the time between classes and volunteering and work, instead of moving forward on my never ending to-do list or doing those things I dream about when I am busy, I sit stupidly in my room, zoning out into some unknown, usually on my computer.

I feel lazy.
I feel ashamed.

And yet, I need to remind myself to practice gentleness. Kindess is essential to my body and to my soul; this includes focusing on eating well and getting the sleep my body needs, and speaking to myself with love. Gentleness does not mean, though, that I continue to allow myself to justify wasted time, but that I – gently – push myself to be proactive: do five minutes of research, or reading, or writing; tidy the desk; take a twenty minute nap; read a book, just for fun. Dance furiously to a guilty-pleasure song with all the energy of a hurricane. Take baby steps towards a goal, no matter how small. Move ever forward. Be the sun, and emerge from behind those colorless, listless, clouds.

Dancing and Daydreams







Oh, this sweet lady. All gentleness, depth, and light. I met her on a whirlwind trip to Berlin, and felt like a celebrity when she ran to greet me. I was – I am – so humbled. We spent a day wandering, photographing, art journaling, and sharing, and this friendship, rooted in online exchanges, simply blossomed in person.

There was not one awkward or uncomfortable moment all day. We danced through pouring rain together, took hundreds of photos of droplets – Tröpfchen – lingering in the garden beds, chased mosquitoes away from one another, wandered through enormous ancient parks, and shared stories and cake. And oh, how we laughed and remarked again and again how dreamlike it all was. Kindred spirits in their element, celebrating the world!

In the evening, the day having passed in the blink of an eye, we slowly and carefully examined each other's art journals (and tears brimmed when I realized she had been so inspired by this painting of mine that she did her own rendering). Then, exchanging our journals for an hour or two, we gifted creativity to one another, collaging, painting, sticking, and writing love notes for the other to keep. And I wrote in her art journal: you are love. And so she is – Love. Loved. Loveable. Lovely.


It was a day I will treasure forever. Vielen Dank noch mal, Süsse, für einen wunderschönen Tag! Bis bald! Go say hello here, and read what Miss Sandra wrote about (and see more photos of) our visit here! Oh yes, and the result of our work? See below – and note the completely accidental color coordination! Whee!

For You



You, dearest one, are loved.

You shine invisible beams of light from your very core into the darkest corners of the Universe, bringing light to so many. You matter! You are on the right path. You can do this.

And it will all turn out more beautifully than you could ever expect.
Promise.

Big hugs from me to you, sweet soul.

* * *

Hiatus


September.

My mama is married.
A new semester has begun.
I feel centered, healthy, at peace.

I feel that I have entered a new phase of my life – taken a turn around a bend in the road, gradually saying goodbye to my past and embracing all the possibilities of the future.

Additionally, I have found peace of mind. I am comfortable with myself, just as I am, content and cheerful. My soul is calm. I celebrate this newness wholly, with awareness and gratitude in light of the mountains I have struggled to climb.

Fall is just a few weeks away, and this year I am looking forward to chilly nights, layers, and clear autumn skies. (Usually I try to negotiate with the Universe to let summer stay just a little bit longer!) The leaves at this time of year – going through a transition to brilliant oranges, reds, and yellows – are breathtaking and, perhaps, symbolic of where I am standing, metaphorically, at this moment.

I have been reflecting at length of the direction of this blog. I still love this space dearly and long for it to be a space of ease, comfort, peace, and joy. I long to celebrate here all that is good and kind and beautiful, the small things and the grand. However, I find that, in pressuring myself to post just for the sake of posting, I lose quality and sincerity, and this is quite the opposite of what I dream for this place. In this new chapter of serenity and calm, too, I find that words find me more seldom than before. For these reasons (though perhaps you have already seen this coming in my lengthening absence here?) I will be allowing myself the time to create posts that are meaningful and full of love, inspiration, and honesty – that which I have always intended to share, but elements which have become misguided in the attempt to serve readers first and not my own interests. It may sound selfish, I suppose, yet I truly believe that the most beautiful things come from a place of love and passion; and only in following our hearts can we discover what that is.

A stereotypical artist type, I am messy, disorganized, and impulsive, qualities which conflict with my image of what a "good" blog is. But I am throwing that out the window, loves, and embracing who I am and this space for what it is. I will make no promises as to when I will next pop in, but I wish you all the love in the world in the meantime and hope that you understand the direction this decision has come from. Stay true to yourself, beautiful souls. You are loved.

A few things to inspire you til our next meeting:

Art blogs:
* A Paper Bear
* Michelle Armas
* MeScrap Studio
* Shoulda-Coulda-Woulda

Art journal pages on Flickr
Art inspiration on Pinterest


Murmuration from Islands & Rivers on Vimeo.

Venezia, Italia / Venice, Italy


Life seems to be moving at the speed of light. It seems that just a few weeks ago I was celebrating the new year, having a birthday, and starting a new routine in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Yet here I am, nearly three quarters through 2012, on north american soil, days away from a new semester and my mama's wedding, and less than a year away from my college graduation!

Yes, indeed. I have said it a thousand times before: time truly flies.

In early June, my love and I visited Venice – a first-time experience for us both. It was breathtakingly beautiful, vibrant and lively and ancient. The textures and colors alone were indescribable, and I longed to have my paints with me to capture the soul of the city. I took many, many photos and must divide them into several posts; not only does each image contain a thousand things to look at, but I need to take my sweet time editing them as I feel that I will only finish this huge project in small sessions!

Venice left me speechless with wonder and amazement. I so hope I will be back soon –  for a proper visit this time; a day trip is far too short to take in so much – to explore not only the narrow, winding alleyways, tiny shops brimming with trinkets and bobbles, and the hundreds of bridges crisscrossing turquoise canals, but also the surrounding countryside and other well known places like Rome and Florence. And next time, I'll be sure to bring my paints.

Returning


I arrived on North American soil last Tuesday by way of three different flights. The trip was surprisingly smooth, and the past week has been lovelier than I expected. Feelings of European homesickness have been creeping in, however, and with a looming final year of university ahead of me, I daydream of starting this year over from the beginning just to live in Germany all over again.

The photo above was taken in Austria just before my boyfriend, his friend, and I hiked to a huge, thundering, beautiful waterfall, melted snow tumbling down from the Alps. (Click the image to view it smaller.) We had just arrived after a long trip from Germany; the afternoon sunlight was golden and the mountains breathtaking. I am so grateful I can relive these memories again and again through the hundreds of photos I took while studying abroad.

There is so much I want to get done in the last week before I dive into academics again: I want to paint, add substance to dreamed of workshops, edit photos, write, read, visit friends, and take day trips. I want to sort out my clothes, donating as much as I can part with. I want to find a dress for my mama's wedding, just a few weeks away. I want to spend time with my not-so-little brother before he travels halfway around the world to the Philippines again.

And I want to feel present here and on Facebook, sharing encouragement, inspiration, art, photographs, and love.

Of course there are also the hundreds of things I have to get done, like paperwork, lingering research assignments, phone calls, emails, and preparations.

Oof – what a to do list!

I hope that wherever you are and whatever you have planned for the coming months, you are enjoying this moment, right here, right now, taking deep breaths and feeling your heart beat in your chest. It's such a gift to be alive.

All my love!

On to the Next Chapter

Already the eighth month of the year, and already my last day in this country that has become so close to my heart. Germany has treated me well, and I leave it grateful and full to the brim, treasuring new friends, experiences, and a language (nearly) mastered. I am a little teary-eyed, too, that it is time to say good-bye to deutsche Bäckereien, öffentliche Verkehrsmittel, and schöne Altstädte (german bakeries, public transportation, and beautiful old parts of cities) among countless other european uniquenesses – and of course I will dearly miss this funny, generous, sweet love of mine. Oh, how I will miss him!

I have fallen so far behind on editing photos and telling adventures of my time spent here and I know that posts about my time here will continue long after I have returned to my family. I have yet to share about Venice, Italy, my trip to Berlin, and the time I spent with kindred spirit and fellow art journaler Sandra, as well as a peek at the beautiful city where I studied. I'm also putting together a summer manifesto, inspired by iHanna, and have created several art journal pages I'm excited to show you.

I hope you are well and happy and soaking up summer.
I'll be writing you soon from the other side of the Atlantic. All my love!

Adventuring


I'm in Berlin for the weekend! I will return soon with lots of pictures and some lovely stories. Bis bald! (See you soon!)

Beautiful Radiant Workshop



It's that time again, lovelies: my Beautiful Radiant workshop is now open for its second round of registration! I created this course for 21 Secrets in 2011; over 200 students have taken part in it, and the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive:
"Ingrid is an amazing guide throughout the videos of Beautiful Radiant. She bubbles over with kind and beautiful words of encouragement.  Ingrid and [this course] sparked a desire for art journaling deep within me that I almost forgot that I had. Thank you!" - Erica
"I am in awe of the soul searching and such meaningful art that has come from this workshop. Ingrid, I have really enjoyed doing the class – thank you so much for putting your heart and soul into it and for guiding me in this most thought provoking way of expressing myself." - Christine
What is this workshop about, my love?
I will guide you through building an art journal page using mandalas, dreamboards, symbolism, and more as we work through deep questions of your self and soul. You will grow in self understanding and widen your art journaling technique repertoire, and these will transform into art journaling page brimming over with what is the essence of you.

This ecourse is taught by video on a private blog, supplemented with a closed community forum and a downloadable PDF.

Why you should join:
  • Gain many new techniques to use in art journaling, all elements of which can be used separately or as building blocks for countless varieties of pages
  • Have access to a private forum in which you can chat, meet other students, share your work, give and receive feedback, and more – all of which will be available to you long after the workshop closes
  • Download, print, and keep a full color PDF of all the techniques and writing and art prompts shared in this course
  • Access 6 private videos of step-by-step instruction
  • All of the course's material is posted up front, allowing flexibility to work around any schedule and the ability to work at one's own pace
  • The website has just been completely redesigned for ease of use and inspiring aesthetics
  • It's just five bucks! (Yes – you read that right!)
Are you ready to join? Sign up below now, and I'll add you to the roster. (Please note that a valid email address is required in order to send you an invite. However, I promise – cross my heart! – to never, ever sell or share any of your private information for any reason whatsoever.) The workshop will open on August 1st and run for two weeks, closing on August 15th, 2012. Have questions? Write me here!

Email address (required)


I so look forward to creating and growing with you!
All my love,
Ingrid

Skyward

A few weeks ago, Connie lost a dear friend and asked us to look to the sky in his memory. Since then, the sunsets here southern Germany have been magnificent, and I think of her often. The photos above were taken within just minutes of each other, a beautiful yet strong reminder of how quickly time passes and things change.

This weekend I am looking up and sending heart wishes of comfort to the families of those who lost their lives in Colorado on Friday.

Polishing and Dusting

Oh, man.. You wouldn't think it, but HTML, coding, and blog design take a lot of time. In fact, I just pulled an all-nighter (and I have a meeting in just a few hours!) to give my blog some more room to breathe, and it still merely looks like I have rearranged a few things. Please don't tell my mother that I haven't slept. Or my boyfriend, for that matter.

It is when I become fully immersed in chasing a design dream, oddly, that I feel most connected to my blog. The restlessness I feel in my waking life, the longing for spontaneity and order and color and a whole simultaneous host of other things overflows into these pages, compelling me to bring about change in one of the least intimidating and complex parts of my life. And, to be perfectly honest, I have a love affair with the night; the stillness of the wee hours of the morning is magical and sacred, and watching the world awaken is breathtakingly beautiful.

Know, loves, that this latest blogging renovation is still in progress. There are links that do not work and I feel a tugging to bring more color to the header, among other things. We shall see. Regardless, there will be some changes in the next days; please have patience with me. 


For now, though, I suppose I should get some rest – as well as address the schoolwork that still remains undone. But let's keep the latter a secret, too, shall we?

The Other Side of the Fence

Last week, as I stood watching cows graze lazily in a pasture just behind my building, I longed to know what – if anything – they were thinking about.

Do animals have that beautiful ability to stay forever in the present, enjoying every single moment as it goes by: completely immersed in the taste of a particular leaf, the birds in the trees, the clouds floating by in a blue sky? Do they dream of things they miss or long for, like a chick, lamb, or calf who has now grown and found a new home? Do mama cows wait with anticipation for the evening's milking, when their swollen udders will find relief?

Sometimes I so long to be a bird, carefree, floating on the wind with sunbeams dancing on my back. I wish for simplicity. I wish to know that wherever I am, I am home. And I dream of what it would be like to exist within a quiet, still mind, in a constant state of meditation, never restless, my senses awakened and absorbing the movement and rich, earthy scent of every tree, root, raindrop, and beetle.

What a life that must be!

With Open Arms

Art journal page in progress.

It is part of being human to question our lives, evaluating how far we have come, what we have accomplished, and where it is we hope to go. It is part of the joy – and the struggle – of possessing the unique gift of awareness of our Selves. We analyze our past and dream of the future, looking for answers about our impact on this world: have we made a difference at all? Whose lives, for better or worse, have we touched? How have we grown, changed, failed, and succeeded in the time that we have spent on this earth thus far?

I realized recently that most of my life, instead of having been focused on dreams, higher education, friends, and my future, was occupied with questions of survival: "How can I survive this unhealthy environment? Will I ever find relief from these demons of self hatred and depression? Will I ever be able to live a normal life?" (Read my story here.)

Now, in my twenty fourth year, having at long last reached out for help and begun the long journey to healing, I know the answers to those questions: I have survived, courageously. I have learned to be gentle, loving, and patient with my Self. I am whole, and I am and will continue to walk a journey of healing. I am not defined by my past.

Knowing these truths, I at long last have the chance to explore the questions that had for so many years fallen to the wayside: what do I want to do? What can I give to the world? What are the things that I most want for myself? What big dreams do I have?

And frankly, my loves, I am at a loss.

But everything new and unknown is difficult. Knowing that the rewards of finding these answers will point the way to a full, happy life, I will continue to ask myself big questions, searching for answers that make my heart sing. And so I continue on this adventure deep within to (re)discover my passions, my joys, and my dreams.

Dear readers, do you struggle with knowing who you are? What are your biggest heart dreams? I would love to hear from you!

All my love,

Featuring: Natty Malik

Back in the fall I was lucky enough to meet Natty Malik face to face over Google+. This girl is incredible - and wow, she's funny! I laughed so hard during the few hours we chatted. Natty is unbelievably talented. She is a fellow art journalist who works mostly with collage, washi tape, text, image transfers, and warm, vibrant colors; her style is playful, vivid, and she has an exceptional eye for design. More than that, she has been published all over the place, including no less than three times in Art Journaling Magazine, and teaches the free art journaling In the Sun ecourse which is going on right now. Sheesh, girlie!

At the end of our chat we agreed to exchange some mail love. (This post, by the way, is extremely overdue, as Natty shared my package on her blog way back in – eek! – November. This goes to show how incredibly unorganized I am – so sorry, lovely!)

I was so amazed opening her gifts! She was so sweet and personalized the package, including lots of maps due to my love for traveling and use of travel-related materials in my journaling, sheet music, vintage papers, gorgeous business cards, handmade tag, lace.. and so much more. Natty sells these packets in her etsy shop, which has me drooling every time I visit. She has so much loveliness there: prints, original art, zines, workshops, handmade journals, and a ton of gorgeous collage materials.

Is this girl incredible or what?
Samples of Natty's work, via her Flickr photostream. All images are ©Natty Malik.

Natty, thanks again for being such an inspiration. I'm so amazed at what you've accomplished in just a few years and am proud to call you a friend. I wish you the very best in continuing to follow your heart in building a business upon sharing your love of art!

Go check out Natty's blog Awkward & Beautiful here, and find her at twitter, her facebook page, and etsy shop. And if you feel so inclined, why don't you try your hand at making and sending a paper flower to her for her upcoming wedding?

Freud und Wonne / Joy and Delight


Here are my newest art journal pages, created in a German kids' book of dinosaurs I picked up for about fifty cents at a flea market in town. I actually revisited my own workshop (which, by the way, is on sale here for just five bucks!) and tried a new take on the techniques I teach, like a mandala dreamboard, writing as texture, and secret nooks. Such fun!

It's surprisingly easy to forget just how much fun it is to spend the day collaging and painting; when all your focus is on starting, art journaling takes a different sort of energy. But oh, once you pass that hurdle, it's Freud und Wonne aus jeder Brust: joy and delight from every bosom.

picasion gif maker

Austrian Wonderland


Last week, A and I travelled to Austria to spend the weekend with a friend. Our experience was absolutely magical; Austria is stunningly, breathtakingly, overwhelmingly beautiful. It felt like the Alps were cradling us, and the melting glaciers-turned-waterfalls that were so present had such a deep, powerful, ancient presence.

I took literally hundreds of photos on our daily travels around Innsbruck and, on the last day, a visit to Venice. (Oh, be still my heart! If Austria left me breathless, Venice held my lungs captive for a day.) And to be honest, so many of these turned out to be less than ideal, in part because of sharp sunlight or hastily taken, unfocused shots, but also in part because the beauty I attempted to capture looks so cheap when boxed in a small frame, like a postcard you could pick up at a drug store for a dime. It is such a shame – and at the same time, in a wonderful way emphasizes how precious this experience was – that the most beautiful scenes turned out to be the photos I dislike the most.

I am sharing my favorite shots from Austria in this post; photos from Venice will follow as soon as I can muster up the courage to sort the good from the bad and find the time – and patience – to edit them.  Enjoy.

Psst! In the photo below there is a hidden water-loving creature. Can you find her? Click the photo to view it large!

linkwithin

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