26/02/2014

Art Therapy

Art-therapie

I don’t know why colouring-in a French book feels a little more enchanting but it does.

Maybe when you only have a vague idea of what the text says you let your conscious mind relax into a dreamy, mindful state more easily than if you’re reading and thinking.

No matter. Have a look at these beautiful art therapy books from French company, Hachette-Practique. There’s also a sweet kit of colored pencils. Trying to figure out which brand of coloured pencil to buy can be so stressful as to have you colour-in more pages to re-balance.

 

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02/03/2013

Tenderness

inapaleplace

My short story “Tenderness” was included in the Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival‘s “Worth The Wait” ebook in September.

You can download the ebook for free courtesy of the short story competition sponsors, Glengoyne Whisky.

Sláinte!

* Image courtesy of Kat from In A Pale Place. Available to buy along with more of her beautiful art in her Etsy shop.

 

 

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24/02/2013

Journeying with instinct

journeying

It’s been a while.

I’ve suffered a little performance anxiety.

I’ve received many beautiful, heartfelt emails in response to the little pieces I’ve been writing here at Inner Wild Therapy. Wonderful people baring themselves to me. My response was to feel uncertain.

I didn’t like the cloudy, unformed sense of influence over others that floated up around me as my writing journey on Inner Wild Therapy continued. And so I paused.

I stopped.

In the time between then and now I’ve realized the very last kind of someone I want to be is a someone who advises others directly about their lives. It’s just not me.

Instead I’ve been writing my {third} novel, The Wild Folk.

I’m smitten by the characters in this story. Now I’m done with getting what they want to say into a book, they push and poke at my back to get them out in the world. I’ve sent my manuscript to Canongate.

I’ve decided that if The Wild Folk is not for Canongate I’m going to indie publish on Kindle.

I’ve just figured out how to put my Beef Casserole for the Dog’s Soul stories on Kindle and have revamped my Bibiliopet website with a new, wham-bam template so am up with that. Yo.

Thank you for continuing to walk with Inner Wild Therapy now and again even when I’ve been absent. I notice from my site stats a lot of dearhearts have been visiting and that makes me feel like everyone is watching and judging me so I freeze up like a bunny supported and appreciated. {hug}

Ah, I love Inner Wild Therapy. I’m not exactly sure what it is but it is. And that is good.

We shall journey with instinct.

 

* Image courtesy of Kelly Louise Judd of Swan Bones Theatre. See more of her art in her Etsy shop.

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11/05/2011

are you right? or wrong?

Years ago, I was very concerned about being “right”. Now I am not remotely concerned about being wrong, feeling wrong or people thinking I am wrong. Or being right.

I still remember the shock of listening to what John Gray said years ago about letting go of a need to be ‘right’. Have you done his clenched fists exercise? I love that. I just tried to find it online for you to no avail.

I think I saw him do it on Oprah about 15 years ago. The idea is you think about something that’s bothering you and clench your fists rigidly while repeating “I am right” – then attempt to unclench your fists. Have a go now. It’s weirdly difficult to uncurl your control-freaky, angry/frustrated-filled fingers.

Maybe it’s a hangover from school days or a spin on trying to control an unpredictable world but adults seem to have a perverted yearning to be “right”. Children don’t have it so much.

Who cares if you’re “right” or “wrong”? You’re not at school. There is no exam. You will not be punished for being ‘wrong’. Nor get a prize for being ‘right’. {And it’s only you who is defining.}

Maybe you don’t even know you have a need to be right…? Check in with your body and release any muscular tension you find, just quietly.

With your hands relaxed and not clenched in a furious fist, (you’ll notice a surprising number of people walking about with at least one fist clenched) it is so much easier to be flexible, content and be fine with being wrong {but bear in mind, I am often wrong…}.

 

Image of gorgeousness, “Creative Life” borrowed from Amanda Cherie of hellocherie – buy a print here.

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20/01/2011

Imperfect, it’s the perfect way to be

Have you noticed a growing backlash against the idea of “perfection”? And a growing appreciation of the imperfect? A move towards hand-stitched, hand-turned, hand-made rather than mass-produced, machine-made? Lots of people on Tumblr stating “I am imperfect” or “my imperfections are what make me me” in their bios?

I thought at first it was just me who yearned for, let’s just call it ‘the human touch’ for now in goods and clothes as well as service. I thought I was being slightly odd in, for example, asking the man selling Christmas trees for an imperfect, “more natural-looking” tree. He was surprised, I guess most people want the most ‘perfect’-looking, idealized tree and the growers attempt to grow that kind of ‘perfect’ tree.

{He wanted to give me a destined-for-the-skip “reject” for free but I gave him £7.50 for it. Ironically, it was magnificent: the bushiest, straightest most idealized Christmas tree I’ve ever had!} Imagine how many trees were chipped as not perfect-enough to be offered for sale…?

I’ve been thinking about how the media and advertising has for decades attempted to persuade us that we should look for, and expect, perfection in all things – that we should indeed aspire to “perfection” – the ‘perfect’ recipe solution to your friends-for-lunch dilemma(!) – the ‘perfect’ sauce for pasta, the ‘perfect’ coat for a night out and so on.

The other side of this is that as consumers we’ve expected perfection in the things we buy – from perfectly-shaped vegetables to perfectly-finished clothes and household linens. We’d throw our arms up in horror if we paid big bucks for something only to find a tiny flaw. Why? Because we’ve bought-into the promise of perfection.

We’ve bought-into it so much that our expectations of everything from the things we buy to our own selves, our homes and the behavior of everyone around us are SKY-HIGH.

No wonder we are so often disappointed in life!

Moreover, manufacturers closing the vicious circle of create-desire-for-perfection-in-people by giving us perfectly-produced high street goods has also meant enormous sacrifices have been made by factory workers in poorer countries who, as you know are possibly children and definitely vulnerable members of society. Consider also the villages soaked in pesticides – pesticides used to protect crops so they are ‘perfect-looking’ and will therefore sell.

Supplying nothing but perfect items has meant shocking wastage – imperfect goods, including garments are thrown into landfill.

It should be acknowledged that some companies including one particular high street store do try to alleviate the waste issue by cutting their brand label off the garments they don’t feel are perfect enough to offer for sale under their brand, but which have passed through the manufacture quality control and transit processes, by donating these brand-new and usually only marred in tiny, unnoticeable ways to charity shops.

And now we’re becoming bored of perfect and longing for something more ‘real’ looking, the laws in the UK changed last year so that food producers are able to offer ‘imperfect’ shaped fruit and vegetables  through supermarkets as they used to do, and have continued to do at farmers markets and such-like, rather than get dumped because they don’t look like an idealized notion of what perfect fruit and vegetables should look like.

As consumers demanding and expecting perfection, we’re funding and perpetuating a system that is on is knees trying to produce perfection and in doing so having to cut corners in all kinds of saddening ways to bring that perfection to us; in costs/cheap labor (making up for the waste of imperfect items not being put up for sale) through to investing in new technologies in an attempt to create a completely, laughably unnatural state of ‘perfection’.

I’ve even noticed people selling handmade goods attempting to make them look perfect, like they were made in a factory. WTF? This is a completely upside-down idea! We would feel much better embracing our own handwork than attempting to replicate a human-less factory look.

I think this system is going to implode. Such levels of perfection at such cost to fulfil an empty promise of perfect is not sustainable.

What really bothers me though is this sinister idea that perfection is a good thing and that everything, including us, might want to aspire to being perfect. The inference throughout western society is that we strive to be ‘perfect’.

No wonder plastic surgery is on the increase, no wonder so many people feel they are falling short of the mark; physically, emotionally, mentally. With our society actively providing so much ‘perfection’ and creating a sense that this perfection is in some way normal – and with so little tolerance of human mistakes – no wonder we feel a sense of not-good-enough followed through with a lack of self-confidence, self-value and self-love.

Being imperfect is being honest-to-goodness natural. Imperfection is beautiful, it’s human, it’s also divine. In fact, it’s the perfect way to be.

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12/01/2011

How feathered is your nest this winter?

OK, it’s been nearly two months now that I’ve been like a coiled spring ready to unleash massive de-cluttering energy on a storage cupboard and the dastardly drawers of papers.

I am so ready. Primed, even. Excited. For even more emotional support there has been the turn of the year – a seemingly made-to-measure time for this kind of purging.

I’ve occasionally become a tsunami tidal wave of pent-up decluttering energy by re-reading motivational decluttering hand-holding posts from wonderful Miss Minimalist and Mnmlist (Leo Babauta). And yet my tidal wave is stuck at its peak, not washing all over the cupboard and papers drawers.

Why?

I realize now that as I’ve stripped away a lot of things over the past couple of years, I’ve found myself more susceptible to natural forces. In the sweet vulnerability of less, I am more in tune with natural daily and seasonal rhythms. And more affected by them.

My trapped tidal wave of tension comes, I think, from two opposing forces: 1) an intellectual and emotional desire and need to purge, de-clutter, create new spaces  and 2) a forceful, primal urge that I think we all have towards storing supplies, bundling up and feathering our nests during winter.

You don’t need to read Children of the Forest to know this is a powerful force.

The urge to feather our nests for winter. We bundle our bodies up with layers and layers of clothing, scarves, thermal socks, wooly hats, sheepskin coats to protect from the cold and meanwhile we also surround ourselves with all kinds of clutter in a primordial need to cosset ourselves and cozy our home.

If you were an Inuit (perhaps you are – hello!) you’d be wanting to fill that igloo up with warm materials as much as possible. And so in wintertime there’s a natural inclination towards bundling up which opposes an intellectual and emotional need to declutter for the (humankind created) calender new year.

Some of us, well me anyway, have strong bear and/or hedgehog hibernation inclinations and oh gosh, this is challenging to work against no matter how psyched we are to CLEAR EVERYTHING OUT for the New Year, take advantage of the timing to STRIP AWAY UNNECESSARY and OUTMODED people, possessions and passing whims, CLEAR THE DECKS for the arrival of new, unlimited opportunities and ways of being in the new year.

Perhaps the solution is to put yet another sweater on and work fast, like squirrels do between snowstorms. And be pleased that we have so many feathers in our nests – so many, in fact, we don’t need as much. Let’s remember there are many others with tattered nests who could use some of our nesting materials. That helps me to share my store of winter supplies, maybe it helps you too.

Image Birds Nest, Fine Art Photograph borrowed from Judy Stalus. Visit her Etsy shop to buy Judy’s stunning fine art prints.

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15/12/2010

Powerful healing for you, here and now

I met someone a few months ago. An extraordinary person. Her name is Jackie Stewart and she is one of those divine people who seem to have a magical connection to cosmic threads and who uses this gift to help others.

Jackie helps people like you and me heal emotionally and live our life’s purpose, harnessing potent flower and crystal essences to do so. As we think, “how can I be more fully in alignment with my true self and what I’m really here for?” Jackie helps us re-align with our soul’s purpose.

I had a flower essence consultation with Jackie recently and am so grateful for how she has facilitated deep, gentle healing with me first by listening and then by applying her knowledge of the human psyche and flower essences to create an individual combination of essences for me.

Knowing what a wonderful, wise and wild woman she is, I asked Jackie if she might write a guest post for Inner Wild Therapy. Her response – the guest post she has so kindly and beautifully written below – resonated so deeply with me that I after I read it with a lump in my throat and then re-read it with tears of relief and healing running down my face I rather selfishly held it close to me for two weeks before managing to share it with you!

I am a Child of Moss. And you are a Child of ……?

“When we were little children we played without planning, we invented, created, imagined and laughed. We followed our joy and did as we pleased. Way back before anyone told us we couldn’t or shouldn’t; before we noticed what other people thought.

What did you imagine? …… What did you create? …… What did you play?

If we cast our minds back to childhood we find lost parts of ourselves. Like Hansel and Gretel we scattered trails of crumbs for our adult selves to follow. A crumb of creativity here, a crumb of crazy invention there, a crumb of joy here, a crumb of possibility there.

Following the crumbs leads us back to more of our true selves; our unfettered authenticity.

Last summer I revisited the landscape of my childhood on the West Coast of Scotland. My grief about leaving it overwhelmed me and I howled to the trees and the sea. I grieved the loss of the land I will always love and the child I had almost forgotten.

Revisiting that landscape carried me back to a childhood of nature and creativity. The mossy woods where I made dens in upturned tree trunks, climbed trees and hid on Sunday afternoons until I knew it was too late to go to Sunday school. The hills where I unearthed adders from stones, tried to catch fish in lochans and rolled in the heather. The fields where I followed bottles down burns until they bobbed in the sea where I guddled in rock pools and called to the seals.

When I wasn’t playing outside I read books, drew pictures, invented imaginary worlds and made things. I was transfixed by the Antiques Roadshow and dreamt that my handmade boxes, doll’s clothes, perfumed envelopes and storybooks would become heirlooms for people in the future.

Every birthday and Christmas I asked for drawing paper. I drew people and flowers; they seem easier to draw, more beautiful to capture than anything else. It’s the same now: people and flowers inspire my work – together people and flowers are my work. These childhood joy-crumbs have become the passions of adulthood – the very essence of what I put out into the world.

Last year while I wandered through bog and hill my childhood felt close enough to touch and a rhyme emerged in my head.

I am a child of moss, bog and scree..I am a child of woodland and tree… I am a child of waves crashing free… I am a child that was borne of the sea.

I’d forgotten how much that wild child was still inside me wanting to play outside. I’d forgotten about the need for solitude that wild places have hewn in my soul. I come from somewhere so wild, remote and devoid of human touch that I carry that same solitude within. I’d underestimated how much I need space and silence.

I hadn’t realised why chaos, loudness, crowds and clutter are so cacophonous to me until I stood there in calm, open stillness. I saw myself with a new understanding. Space and silence are part of my very nature; without both I feel like I am suffocating. Many times I’d felt the suffocation but hadn’t quite realised why.

Remote landscapes shaped me, solitude defines me and my creativity flows from quiet spaces within. Now I live in a different landscape but my inner compass still points west. When I feel out of sorts I walk westwards, following the crumbs for glimpses of wild and the sound of silence.

If you look back into your childhood you’ll find the crumbs you scattered. Be gentle and curious but you better be quick. Leave it too long and you might not be able to see them anymore.

So close your eyes. Journey back to a time in your childhood when you were really happy. Doing something you loved. Where were you? Was anyone else with you? What was the weather like? What were you wearing? Who was your best friend? Your worst enemy? How did you feel? Call back the atmosphere of this time and allow the details to emerge in your awareness. Call these memories into your heart and find the golden thread that links the Then-You to the Now-You. Breathe deep into the reconnection and remembering.

Your inner child wants you to remember the child you were so that you can be the adult you were always meant to be. Creative. Wild. Joyful. Free.”

- written by Jackie Stewart, Flowerspirit. You might like to connect with Jackie yourself – you will find her lovely gentleness on Twitter @JSFlowerspirit and of course on her website: Flowerspirit.

Images of Puck’s Glen, Argyll, Scotland borrowed from photographer, Jason Smalley. See more of Jason’s breath-taking nature photography at www.jasonsmalley.co.uk. You can even purchase his images which exemplify his ethos of ‘connecting to nature through the craft of photography’ at Wildscape at Redbubble.

Jason and Jackie also create an artful and powerful newsletter, Essence of Wild – have a look and enjoy.

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06/12/2010

Your random act of inspiration for today

Today in Scotland we’re having a festive season embellished with piles of snow and wonderment. Days off school and work, a feeling of coziness in our homes, doors closed tight against freezing winds, curtains open wide to giant snowflakes cascading. Crunching through deep snow piles, slipping gracefully on ice and managing to catch ourselves before falling over.

This is the season when we are always surprised – by the weather, the kindness of those around us, expressions of love, traditions old and newly-created like an advent calendar sent across the Atlantic, new pyjamas for Christmas Eve. We are encouraged to ballet dance on thin ice, sip cups of too-hot hot chocolate and hold loved ones close.

There are many other lovely surprises – any one of which might be just a moment away for you right now. Who knows what wonderful thing is about to happen?

View the video clip above for your instant glorious, random act of daily inspiration. When I watched it, my eyes teared up and my throat got all thick and swollen – yay!

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30/09/2010

Let’s spin the bottle, why not?

So I’ve been a little neglectful of my darling online journal recently. {AND THAT’S OK! I add later} My creative spirit has needed a fix of Etsy-ness and I’ve been spending lost hours in the Etsy Treasury and convo-ing lovely people and caressing my new Inner Wild Etsy shop. [Um, my third ... fourth?]

Cycling in and out of different creative phases easily and without guilt is a bit like an adulthood game of spin the bottle. I remember being made to feel bad as a child about my love of novelty and the potentiality of the new so that I’ve spent years attempting to go against my nature; forcing myself to labor a thing beyond the time I had lost interest.

Oh the damage people can do to us when we are little; moving us away from our own truths to fit their truths of how we ‘should’ be! I have eventually shaken off this feeling of guilt and now feel good about my natural skills in the realms of the nascent and the new inspiration rather that beating myself up for a perceived lack of follow-through.

it is glorious – and incredibly productive in the most fulfilling of ways – to honor your personal creative spirit and the cycles of how it wants to manifest at any given time. Feel like gardening? Do it. Feel like cleaning? Do it. Quick change to feeling like taking a walk? Do it. Your creative instinct knows what’s best for you. And you’re being mindful in a different way in the moment – mindful of your own inner world.

It’s when we apply life’s schedule of work times and pre-planned events that we begin to feel depleted and weary – we are not flowing with our inner creative biorhythms and natural peaks and troughs.

I’ve always cycled my passions so that with the return of a particular true love came a patina of it being a new love, sandwiched and contrasted as it was by others in-between – and always now there are the unbreakable steel cords of constants: motherhood, (child and animals) and writing. This works with my desire for novelty and also lets creative activities contrast and give to one another in a limitless universe of possibilities.

So in honor of flights of surprising whimsy this blog post is a kind of a little game of spin the bottle wherein I have three more breathy topics: one for the boys and one for the girls and one unisex.

The first spin (girls): I have *decided* I am vehemently anti-fashion and opposed to the out-moded circus of commercial nonsense that is fashion editors and media people – dictating what we “should” be wearing each season in an attempt to make us feel insecure enough to BUY more clothes we don’t need to the extent so that we are ‘acceptable’.

Screw that. Wear what you like. I was thinking of devoting a whole blog post to this idea when – wouldn’t you know it! – I discover the blistering irony that I am visionary and MAINLINING global fashion trends in my Etsy shop! LOL

Damn them. It’s just too freaky. Check this out:

- A department store (House of Fraser) in the UK has “Wild Things” as a ‘womenswear autumn 2010 trend’

- The Guardian Weekend says CABLE KNITS are IT for Autumn 2010

- I thought I was very alternative using Isle of Harris Tweed yarn but blooming Laura Ashley is now yabbering on about its “Isle of Harris” knitwear range.

- And, and, AND the Paris Fashion Report – from PARIS – tells us, “After many years of high-tech and structured fashion, the inevitable consequence of our sophisticated, modern lives, we’re going back to the wild. Let’s rebound to our primal state and reconnect with our inner beast!”

Are they copying me? Or am I inadvertently the butt of a cosmic joke wherein I am channeling the world of seasonal “fashion” I loathe; mainlining global fashion trends, editors of Vogue Italia et al via the collective consciousness while I sleep? I laugh. Ha. Ha. Ha. *Nervous titter*.

But easing my sense of all-being-right with the world is the second bottle spin (unisex):

I happened upon an extraordinary psychological exploration of The Wild Wood from The Wind In The Willows (the film and its adaptations) as a metaphor for primal fears, depression and our collective unconscious fears and how we react to them as humans. This is a beautiful examination of the human psyche using archetypal themes by MovieMan0283. Please have a look. It is amazing, profound, thoughtful and I think you’ll like it very much.

If, like me, you have ever been depressed, this will remind you of how brave you were in the Wild Woods and how much you learned in there and how fearless you are compared to others who’ve never ventured in there and how much you appreciate not being in the Wild Woods now.

And if you are in the Wild Woods at the minute, this will help you remember you are surviving in a very scary place, that you not alone in there after all – and, I hope, you’ll feel supported in finding your way out, following us who have left you a path if you can see it shining thinly |(we were weak when we left it) so that with every step you take away from the dark Wild Woods you are moving into a safer place, here, outside the Wild Wood looking at it over your shoulder as it gets smaller behind you.

Third spin (for the boys): an equally insightful and exactingly useful exploration of the nature of the Inner Wild Man in relation to the movie American Beauty by Eivind Figenschau Skjellum (how great is that writer’s name!).

Man, you must read this!  I especially loved Eivind’s brilliant concluding bullet-points of magnificence that offer practical advice on how men can liberate their inner wild man to create a happier life: “Powerful ideas from American Beauty“.

So I leave you with these errant bottle spinning surprises. Enjoy spinning your bottle of creativity today.


Image “Never Let It End” borrowed from Photographer Michael Garbutt. You can see more of Michael’s stunning work and even buy prints at Elgarboart and Elgarbo shops on Etsy.com.

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01/09/2010

Constraint, Freedom + The Big Adventure of Quitting my Day Job

[I'm beside-myself with excitement and joy to bring you a guest post by Andrea from ABCcreativity.

Andrea is the coach I most admire and appreciate on the internet today.  She seems to constantly create and share a beautiful, vibrating feeling of love and abundance, creativity and spirituality. I signed up for Andrea's Creativity 101 e-course - it is spectacular (+free!) and her honey-voiced, guided meditations have reduced me to lovely, healing tears.

Andrea is an artist, a creative journaler, creativity workshop facilitator, meditator and coach. Please be good to yourself today and visit Andrea's online place of miracles-waiting-to-happen-for-you, ABCcreativity.]

“What I love about Inner Wild Therapy is that the posts here flow into that deep space beyond words. Right now, The Case for Constraint is speaking to something deep inside me.

For several years as a struggling artist, I saw day jobs as the devil and did everything I could do avoid them. I would not be constrained.

I had no idea that the very thing I rebelled so much against, the day job, was the very thing that would move me forward and onward and into fabulous new worlds and experiences i couldn’t even see from my day job-less world.

When I got that day job, seven years ago, I swore it was only temporary.

But as I settled into the routine of an employed person, my creativity began to soar. Constrained, for sure. My days weren’t free for art anymore. But when it was time for art – I was focused. I was clear. I was more productive as an artist when I had a full time job! Who would have thought?

New art supplies. Courses. Retreats. Stability. Routine. Growth. The biggest constraint, the day job, turned into my best tool for creating a life that feels right for me. It was like a little incubator. And as I grew stronger and my creative work great bigger, the incubator got smaller and I shifted into part time work.

I am coming up to the part now where it’s time to let the day job go completely. To release the constraint and fly free. And this part is so much harder than I ever would have thought. Every day I am stunned about how much there is to process in letting this part of my life go.

This is it. Freedom. No constraints.

And I know I’m ready. Or I’m getting ready anyway. I’m planning to leave my job by the end of the year. But in the meantime I am so really fully completely aware of how beneficial the constraint has been. The safety and nurturing of it. The familiarity.

And then I get to this part in The Case for Constraint.

And that means our creative power can explode like a new universe from a black hole.

Well yeah. On the other side of the constraint there is this magnificent explosion of creative delight. That alone is worth going into a constrained period, isn’t it? To go from the grey office day job to having this as my workspace:

fabulous art room

Creative explosion of delight.

But really what it’s all coming down to for me is that this can’t be separated. Constraint and freedom are partners. I’ll always have both and how comfortable can I really get with that fact?

There are ebbs and flows. There is downtime. There are reasons to contract. Just like there are reasons to expand and create and enjoy. There has to be balance. All I can really do is listen to my life, listen to my heart, do my best to do what feels right and trust what shows up – if it’s constraint or freedom or success or stillness or a big mess or a totally amazing adventure.

xoxo

andrea”

Image “i know who i am” borrowed by me from Andrea’s Art Exhibit: “let’s all live happily ever after, a celebration of life, possibility and dreams about to come true” which I just discovered is on redbubble – available for sale as Greeting Cards, Matted Prints, Laminated Prints, Mounted Prints, Canvas Prints and Framed Prints. For stories about Andrea’s series of darling & inspiring paper dolls,  creativity blog, art journaling videos, online creativity workshops and guided meditations visit ABCcreativity.

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