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TODAY | Livi LIVE on Zoom

4pm UK | 11am EST

Watch my interview LIVE via Zoom

CREATIVE IN QUARANTINE : Finding Inspiration in Isolation

creative in quarantine

Perhaps one ‘good’ thing to come out of this situation is the inevitable side effect of having to face ourselves and some of our fears. I had been busy constructing my new reality of in-person workshops, in-person connection, in-person meet ups. Redirecting my life and my business OFF line was my primary intention and so to be ‘forced’ so suddenly into a mass exodus ON line was a fairly undesirable outcome for me.

What this has meant however, is that I’ve had to face my fear of video! I have never been a fan of video calls and never been brave enough to talk to the camera on social media. I’m not a fan of my face close up and like many people, the sound of my own voice is just WEIRD to me and makes me feel deeply uncomfortable.

Migrating all my meetings onto zoom has meant confronting all these insecurities and encouraged me to embrace a new reality. Miraculously, I am slowly starting to feel braver and bolder and less afraid of my own face! So much so that I unhesitatingly said a big YES when I was asked to be ‘guest artist’ in a New York based zoom meet up for creatives. 

It’s called Creative in Quarantine: Finding Inspiration in Isolation – an open meet up of creatives who are trying to stay creative or explore their creativity during this time. I will be interviewed by host Tricia Patrick and will be sharing some of the challenges I’ve faced during lockdown as an artist, what I’ve accomplished and how I’m taking care of myself and finding inspiration.

It’s free to join and open to all. Click here to register for free.

Wish me luck!

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HEALING THROUGH ART | MY JOURNEY OVER A DECADE

My recovery journey with art started when I was about a year sober. I was living in Berlin, looking after kids and cleaning houses (both of which I loved by the way!) but needed another income stream to support myself financially. I’d been wracking my brain for weeks/months but was coming up blank. One night, seemingly out of nowhere, the idea of face painting popped into my head. It was a sit-bolt-up-right-in-the-middle-of-the-night moment and to this day I have no idea where it came from. My google search the following morning yielded endless possibilities and I very quickly became a fairy (buying the biggest wings I could find!) and began my own face painting business.

IMG_5557 livi coffee berlin 999

Me in Berlin, circa 2010.

Whilst face painting is often just associated with children’s birthday entertainment, it became so much more for me. It was an intricate art form, a way to develop my creativity and improve my painting skills, and a way to make my world even more colourful. I practised regularly on my friends’ faces and on my own arms, determined to improve and excel in the field. I’ll always remember a dear friend saying to me how beautiful it was that I ‘used to cut my arms, and now I paint flowers on my arms’. She was able to see what I couldn’t – the immeasurable catharsis of replacing my painfully destructive habit with the gentle repetition of tender brush strokes on my skin – now creating beauty, instead of destroying it. 

self harm recovery

Self-painted poppies on my arm & image mirrored.

Not only was the act of painting my arms a deeply healing meditative practice, it also taught me about practise and perseverance (values I had no real experience of). I’d always believed that if I wasn’t good at something immediately, there was no point in even trying. My sole focus was on instant gratification and so the very notion of practise left me recoiling in horror. I was impatient to the core. Learning the art of face and body painting therefore challenged me in many different ways. I learned that practise does indeed lead to improvement, I learned the value of setting personal goals and achieving them, and I started to learn about the power of patience and self-compassion. This seemingly frivolous career choice was teaching me so much more than I had ever anticipated.

Over time however, the years of weekends filled with children’s birthday parties began to take its toll. The snotty noses, the relentless noise, the incessant elbows on my table and sticky fingers in my paints, the absence of thank yous and the increasing disbelief that I was a ‘real’ fairy (!) eventually sucked all the enjoyment out the job for me. Plus four years of Frozen designs. I frequently joked about loving kids a lot less now than I did when I started face painting but I’d learned that persistence yielded results, so I persisted. It didn’t occur to me that hating something I’d once loved so dearly could actually signify my personal growth, and outgrowing jobs was a ‘normal’ and healthy response to consistently working on my personal development. 

Out of the darkness of my addiction I had created a job and a persona of sheer, unadulterated joy – all fantasy, colour and rapture – and in the vulnerability and rawness of early recovery it had become a true expression of the light I was discovering. I received consistent adoration and applause (at a time I probably needed it the most) and believed I’d found my calling. I adored being a fairy and the kids adored the fairy, but over time I grew less and less enamoured with dressing up, less and less fulfilled with what I was doing, and constantly wrestled with the futility of it all (I often struggle with the quagmire of nihilism). How could something that had brought me so much delight and joy now be such a source of misery? Why couldn’t I just love something forever? Accepting that this was all just part of my growth was therefore a bittersweet relief and I admitted to myself that I was ready for change.

In my eternal yet clearly unattainable quest to counteract the natural impermanence of life (and face painting) I progressed into painting canvasses, determined to create art that didn’t wash off. I had retained my teenage ability to produce almost identical copies of any given cartoon character, so I duplicated many a minion, countless Elsas, and various other Disney figures. I quickly grew tired of this uninspiring work (not to mention it is obvious copyright infringement!) but I felt stuck. I knew I wanted to paint but I didn’t know what to paint. Fear and self-doubt crippled me, the whispers of ‘you’re not good enough’  often crescendoing into a deafening white noise which I allowed to defeat me.

It wasn’t until I picked up my dusty copy of The Artist’s Way, gifted to me several years previously by one of my mentors, that something began to shift. I started to challenge my unhelpful, often vicious inner critic and the stories I was telling myself and within a few weeks of ‘going deep’ I produced my very first original painting – The Mushroom Fairy.

I had an image in my head of what I wanted to create but hadn’t given much thought to what it meant. It was other people’s comments and perceptions that encouraged me to contemplate its meaning and on reflection I believe it was my attempt to convey that beauty and pain can coexist. There is magic in recovery but also anguish, happiness but also despair, peace but also conflict. To be human is to encompass the light and the dark – you can’t have one without the other – and my painting mirrored this duality without me even realising it! She still sits on my mantelpiece to this day, as a reminder that self-doubt is really just an illusion and that anything is possible.

Whilst lots of fairies and owls and lovebirds kept me busy for a while I again grew restless and began to seek further inspiration. It was through devouring instagram for creative ideas that I discovered alcohol inks and it was indeed love at first sight. I was utterly captivated by the vibrancy of the colours and the fluidity of the compositions and spent weeks researching the inks, substrates and sealants before purchasing my first batch. These then sat in a drawer for months, as my trusty old friends fear and procrastination showed up the party (again)!

Throughout my life I have allowed fear to keep me constrained in a state of paralysis – afraid I won’t be good enough, afraid I won’t be perfect, afraid of criticism. I have surrendered my power to fear itself and instead of moving through it, I’ve floundered in indecision, inaction and pain. In recovery I have learned to embrace my power and move forward through fear, but it often takes me an excruciating amount of time to do so. Eventually I took the plunge and unboxed my inks, started to play and I loved it. I’d always been drawn to abstract art (as a kid I absolutely adored Kandinsky) but I’d never had the courage to create any. Now I was and it felt like home. I’d found my ‘thing’.

Creating with the inks (before I owned a mask & airbrush machine!)

Life for me though is anything but a fairytale. A part of me still longs for perfection, that happy ending with no problems, no issues, no faults – a plateau of euphoria with no peaks or troughs. But this is not my experience and deep down I understand the necessity of the yin and the yang. My love affair with alcohol inks has been tumultuous and for that I am actually grateful. The inks are a magnificent and surprising teacher and through working with them I have learned, and continue to learn, a lot about myself. Sharing this enchanting medium with others is my next step and whilst this still fills me with fear, I am also overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude at the prospect of doing so.

Me in my studio, 2019

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MANDALA TUTORIAL | STEP BY STEP

I often talk about the beauty and power in the drawing of mandalas. It’s a magical, hypnotic process, one in which thoughts are silenced and order is restored. The art of drawing mandalas really feels like an oasis amidst the chaos – the chaos of the outside world and endless loop of doomsday news, and the chaos of the internal mind.

For me, drawing the mandalas creates more peace and more calm than colouring them. The process of drawing them demands a more intense concentration, thus quieting the noisy part of my brain. I am gifted a reprieve from my thoughts and can easily and happily reside in the space within. Colouring them however, albeit a calming, creative outlet, clearly accesses a different part of the brain and my thoughts are not silenced in the same way.

For this reason, it feels so important for me to share with you the process of HOW I create my mandalas, so that you may be able to do the same and experience the same glorious oasis in the chaos.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

learn how to draw a mandala

Paper to draw on. A compass to mark your circles, with a light pencil. A fine black pen to draw with. (Ruler is optional to measure the precise middle point of your page.) 

HOW TO DRAW YOUR OWN MANDALA

how to draw a mandala

Whilst I always draw my mandalas entirely free hand, I create a series of different sized circles to act as my guide. Using a compass and a soft pencil, I draw approx 4 or 5 circles as a framework. This ensures each loop and curl is of equal size all around the circle.

how to draw a mandala

I start in the middle and initially draw 4 markings – normally a loop, leaf or petal shape – positioned at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock. This is to ensure as much symmetry as possible. Then I repeat the shape 4 more times between my first 4 markings, until I have 8 loops. I call it the power of 8, as each loop, leaf or petal will be repeated 8 times around the circle.

learn to draw a mandala

Once the middle 8 markings have been made, it’s simply a matter of connecting each of those with a new loop, leaf or petal shape. It doesn’t matter what your chosen shape is, as long as it’s the same size and the shape all around the circle!

The choice of marking is entirely up to you! I often think it’s best not to overthink it. Simply let your pen do the work, and enjoy watching as the sensational symetrical pattern unfolds. No need to plan. Just allow it to happen organically.

mandala step by step

It can be easy and tempting to focus on the slight imperfections and size variations as you move around the circle. As a perfectionist myself, I feel you! When focusing on detail, the imperfections seem magnified, however, when your mandala is completed, it will be seen as a whole. All the individual markings, no matter how inconsistent and imperfect, simply add up to comprise the perfect whole.

learn how to draw a mandala

As a general rule I suggest to add details and embellishments after the whole shape has been created. These can either be drawn into the design, or added later when colouring or painting your design.

learn how to draw a mandala

Once you have completed your design you are ready to add colour! Depending on your surface, I’d recommend different pens or paints. Sharpies are fine for paper. Posca pens are great for non-absorbant surfaces, and paints are great for vinyl or canvasses. Painting mandalas however takes a loooong time and can be very fiddly.

how to draw a mandala

This mandala has now been added to my free downloads! Print this off at home and colour to your hearts content.

As I don’t have a printer, I’ve chosen to colour this one digitally as a demonstration. I’ve consistently been drawn to rainbow palettes for my mandalas and in this current climate, I don’t believe there’s anything more fitting!

rainbow mandala

So in love with how this turned out and it’s got me experimenting and thinking about lots of future ideas! Whilst playing with the digital image, I discovered this happy accident…

rainbow mandala

I just love how delicate this image is! The white outline, (instead of the black) just softens it so much. I’m thinking prints, cards, maybe more? What do you prefer? The black or the white outline?

STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO DRAWING A MANDALA

  1. Using a compass & a pencil, lightly mark out 4 or 5 different sized circles as your guides.
  2.  Start in the middle and draw 4 markings (leaf, loop or petal shape) at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock.
  3. Make 4 more markings – in between the original 4. This ensures you have 8 petals evenly spaced in a circle.
  4. Connect each petal with another loop, leaf or petal shape, using your next pencilled circle as your size guide for these markings.
  5. Repeat the same marking 8 times around the circle.
  6. Continue to add leaves, loops, petals, teardrops, swirls, frills, connecting each adjacent marking. Always ensure the same leaf, loop, petal etc is repeated around the circle.
  7. Details and embellishments can be added as part of the colouring process.
  8. Colour in your mandala!

As well as my Art to Heart instagram page, I now have a dedicated page to my mandalas – Oasis in the Chaos. If you download one of my colouring pages, or have a go at drawing your own mandala, please send me your pics or use hashtags #arttoheart #oasisinthechaosmandalas #oasisinthechaos. I’d love to see your work!

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STUDIO OPEN DAY | LEICESTER

After working tirelessly to complete my studio renovations I decided to celebrate by holding my first studio open day. Ever the procrastinator, I challenged myself to organise the open day in just 2 weeks!

rainbow candy home decorating

My daily to-do list often exceeded 30 items (!) but I was determined and focused like never before. I had furniture to paint, a party playlist to create, cupcakes to order, a photographer to organise, paper monstera leaves to cut out, mandalas to draw, drinks to make and glasses to buy… the list was endless. 

Miraculously, my to-do list became my ta-da list and I accomplished everything on it. With furniture all painted, cupcakes (to match my walls) baked, and homemade ginger and raspberry cordials brewed ( I needed pink drinks!) I was ready to go.

The guestlist was small (my studio is in my house!) and included my nearest & dearest friends and family, as well as some amazing supporters of me and my work. I’d jokingly invited people to think COLOUR when they picked their party outfit and emphasised that this was indeed a party (despite starting at 11am!) Most people ignored me 🤣 Apart from my sister 💖

From beginning to end I was overwhelmed by the amount of love in the room. I was deeply, deeply touched by the fact that so many people came, and that everyone who promised to come, actually did.

Many of my friends brought their children so in preparation, I had drawn several mandalas on 12″ vinyl records, ready for them to colour in. What I hadn’t appreciated however, was that Sharpies don’t work very well on my prepped vinyl! Thankfully everyone was extremely forgiving and partook in the colouring anyway – little kids and big kids alike. (I have since learned that it’s all about the Posca pens 💖)

One thing I didn’t want was for this day to be all about me. Celebrating our achievements (both external accomplishments and our internal growth) is something I believe we don’t do enough of. How many times have you slowed down to appreciate reaching the end of a project, before launching immediately into the next one? How many times have you ignored the wonders of your personal development journey, only to focus on where you haven’t reached instead?   

So I made an interactive Celebration Tree!

My guests were invited to pick a leaf and write down something they’d achieved that was worth celebrating, then hang it on the tree! I didn’t read the leaves until after the party so it was a beautiful, heart swelling, tear-jerking end to the morning.

As a thank you to my guests I was offering 50% off most of my stock. Not only did they all bring a huge generosity of spirit, but they were also hugely generous with their spending. They bought an enormous amount of prints and cards that day and for that I am so, so grateful.

rainbow house decor
livi lollipop leicester art workshop
keep going greeting card
livi lollipop leicester
rainbow alcohol inks
dream big rainbow print
vinyl record art

The final interactive piece to bring even more colour & connection to the party I entitled ‘Pocket Nuggets’. On multi-coloured post-its I wrote down some of my favourite quotes from my favourite spiritual teachers – Marianne Williamson, M J Ryan, Brene Browne, Susan Jeffers & more. Guests were invited to take a quote home with them and keep it in their pocket, then replace it on the wall with their favourite quote (if they felt called to share it).

spiritual post it note

I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. The whole room was filled with so much sunshine, so much joy, so much love – it filled with me deep wells of gratitude to share my studio with the people I love. When creating my studio the goal was always to share it. It was never meant just for me. 

Glorious captures of the day courtesy of Matt Glover Photography 💖

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FREE COLOURING PAGES | MANDALAS FOR MINDFULNESS

Like many others at this time, I have found myself needing to be unquestionably malleable. Instead of focusing on what isn’t possible I’ve had to focus on what is. How can I best adapt? How can I still share my world of colour and healing with you, in a different, not-yet-envisaged way?

One of these ways has been to produce a set of free downloadable colouring pages for you: Oasis in the Chaos mandalas 💖

free colouring pages mandala

Each of my mandalas is drawn totally free-hand. There’s no planning, no measuring, no computers. Just me and my pen. It’s a beautiful, hypnotic meditative practise that seamlessly weaves together creativity and relaxation, one in which I can lose myself for hours.

There’s currently 12 mandala designs, all available here. Free if you can’t afford it, and an opportunity to ‘buy me a coffee’ if you have the funds. Either way, I am delighted and excited to finally share these with you!

Colouring pages offer a beautiful, creative way to practise mindfulness – to silence the mind whilst deep in concentration. My mandalas are intended to provide a much needed oasis in the current global chaos, hence the name! My ‘Oasis in the Chaos’ mandalas can all be found here.

My mandalas can be coloured in as a solitary activity, in pairs or in groups. Stuck for lockdown activities for yourself and the kids? Try setting some time aside to colour in some mandalas together. It’s super peaceful and might just keep them quiet for a few minutes. It might also provide you with an oasis of calm!

Or are you a teacher struggling to find activities for the kids of key workers in your care? These free mandala colouring pages may just be the perfect resource for you. There is NO LIMIT on the number of free downloads, so please feel free to download as many as you need, as often as you need.

Drawing and colouring mandalas is a gorgeous, hypnotic way to practise mindfulness meditation. It is an opportunity to direct and focus our awareness on the present moment, unobstructed and undistracted by anything else. It is an effortless act of self care which happens to also yield some glorious, colourful results.

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Feeling the Fear & Doing it Anyway | A decade into Sobriety

I’m not usually one to sit and ponder a whole year or a whole decade – possibly because it feels too overwhelming, possibly because I often have a sense that I haven’t achieved ‘enough’, possibly because I practise self-reflection Every. Single. Day as part of my daily routine so I don’t feel the necessity.

It’s also very easy for me to focus on where I think I ‘should’ be, instead of looking at how far I’ve come, so with the intention of redirecting my focus, here’s a little reflection on what I’ve learned, and relearned, this year.

insta twirl

🌈I can handle it 

Despite my experience of achieving what I thought was impossible (a decade of sobriety and abstinence from self-harm, one day at a time) my old thought patterns can still persist. My default whispers of ‘I can’t handle this/ It’s too hard/ I want to give up’ have limited me immeasurably over the years and I am again relearning that I can handle it/ I can do it/ and that perseverance yields results.

The messages we tell ourselves have an unfathomably enormous effect on our lives and so by transforming our inner dialogue, we transform our outer lives. Telling myself ‘I can handle it’ (when I’ve often convinced myself I can’t) has truly been life-changing.

🌈 My feelings, my choices, my actions are MY responsibility

I was introduced to this truth when I first entered recovery and it was probably the most difficult lesson for me to accept. I’d spent my life blaming others for the way I was and the way I reacted; it was always somebody else’s fault, never my own. If I was miserable and suffering, it was your fault. To therefore be asked to digest the unpalatable truth that I was in fact responsible for all these things… I was horrified.

It has taken me years of oscillating between acceptance and resistance of this notion, consistently feeling the pull back into blaming, but this year, having read some incredible books (eg. Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway) and working with an incredible breathwork practitioner (Olga Circles) I have felt a truly pivotal shift in my understanding of self-responsibility.

🌈 To reconnect to the spiritual path after heart ache and disappointment

Throughout the last decade my morning practise has proved to be an integral piece in my healing. (By morning practise I mean my *almost* daily routine of reading spiritual literature, journaling, affirmations, gratitude lists, yoga and meditation – *almost* every day I utilise a combination of these tools.) Despite knowing the profound impact this has had on my life, I have frequently experienced resistance to it and over time had become complacent and even negligent – possibly because it can feel counter-intuitive (my ego doesn’t want to be silenced), possibly because it’s hard, possibly because growth can be slow and I allowed my impatience to win.

This year however, after quite an extended period of ‘slackness’, my life circumstances shifted and I was left feeling bereft and desperate. Instead of reacting emotionally and destructively, I miraculously felt the pull to reconnect to my spiritual path and began a gentle but regimented daily practise (incorporating all of the above tools). Within weeks I felt transformed and was reminded that ‘doing the work’ really really does work!

🌈 Resistance (for me) is inevitable, and that’s ok!

Some people seem to heal effortlessly – they seem to grasp new concepts and new ideas with fervour and embrace growth & change whole-heartedly. I on the other hand seem to need my claws prizing away from old ideas and old beliefs. I judge myself for being this way, often wishing I could just let go of my resistance, but have recently been reminded (through exploring Buddhism) that this is NORMAL.

Growing can be uncomfortable. Facing yourself can be uncomfortable. Sitting through pain and discomfort is definitely uncomfortable. It’s not surprising I experience resistance. Knowing this and introducing self-compassion to my daily practise has been hugely helpful.

🌈 Humour is everything

When faced with what we label as ‘awful’, laughter can be transformative. It lessens the pain, it takes away the shame, it connects us. In the midst of my old life I don’t remember having a sense of humour. Now, the ability to laugh at myself and inject humour into a situation full of pathos is one of the greatest gifts I have.

🌈 I can walk through fear

Despite consistent evidence in my life that walking through fear is possible, my thinking can still default to old patterns. I have been reminded again this year that pushing through fear is far less frightening and far less painful than sitting in inaction (thank you Susan Jeffers!) Walking through the discomfort and asking for support has led me to achieving things I never imagined I could.

🌈 To live with uncertainty

To lean into it with an open heart and ride the wave in the direction it’s going, wide eyed to possibility. It is only through practise and willingness that I have been able to do this, as for me, uncertainty gives me itchy blood. To sit in ambiguity, to let go of expectations and mental scripting, to dissolve all the ‘shoulds’ – this is where the work lies. It’s hard. It can be disorienting. But it’s oh so freeing and I have deep wells of gratitude for the gift of this practice.

🌈 My ‘tribe’ is everything

Without connection I would simply wither away. I am fortunate enough to be deeply nourished by two tribes: my recovery group and my ‘home alone’ group. The women in recovery who walk this path with me are my life line. To share our lives together, our experiences, our struggles and our successes keeps me afloat. No one gets me like they do. We have a wordless connection, our hearts are interwoven and our stories save each other. My heart surges with gratitude when I think about them. I owe them my life. And the women who comprise our ‘home alone’ group – our incredible network of sole business owners/ warriors – support and inspire me everyday. They are awe-inspiring, resilient and brilliant women and I am privileged to call them my closest friends. I learn and re-learn all the time how important these GODDESSES are to me.💖🙏🏻

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Celebrating 10 Years Sober | Sobriety Birthday Cards

On 26th July 2019, aged 39 yrs young, I turned 10 years sober (and abstinent from self-harm for the same amount of time). 10 fucking years! A whole decade. This felt like an enormous milestone for me and one I often thought I’d never reach. When I was ‘new’ and struggling I would frequently say that if I ever reached 10 years sober and still felt like shit I would drink again. And I meant it. Lucky for me, I no longer feel like shit and here I am, a whole decade later, still sober and self-harm clean. Which really is a fucking miracle. Getting sober was 100% the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Ever.

Until now I haven’t really spoken publicly about my past. It felt very private and sometimes precarious and I didn’t want to disclose my vulnerabilities. I’d worked hard at creating a very colourful, super cheery persona (my other job is a children’s face painter FFS!) and so to reveal my debauched history of drinking and self-harm felt in direct conflict to the character I’d created. I silenced my history and I hid my scars. I successfully compartmentalised the old me from the new me.

Now at 10 years it feels like the right time to open up. Art has been an immensely powerful tool in my healing journey and I’m discovering more and more ways to marry my art and my recovery. Designing a range of sobriety celebration cards is just one of them.

Happy Sobriety Birthday card – Click to buy

These sobriety birthday cards have absolutely been made with love. I wanted to create gloriously vibrant keepsake cards, not only to commemorate AA birthdays and encourage those still struggling, but also as little pieces of art in themselves – cards that people want to keep, not only because of the messages inside, but because they look beautiful on the wall too!

Celebrating sober milestones is SO important and showing your sober friends/ loved ones that you understand where they’ve come from, to get where they are today, is never to be underestimated.

Each card has a little message with a lot of significance. Some of my sobriety cards simply say ‘Happy Sobriety Birthday’ – three small words with so much power. Getting sober is a big fucking deal. People who do it, against all the odds, deserve all the congratulations.

Happy Sobriety Birthday card – Click to buy
Happy Sobriety Birthday card – Click to buy

Probably my favourite card, directed at every sober warrior out there, declares that ‘You’re a fucking Miracle’ ❤ Very few people who aren’t addicts understand addiction. Putting down the drink/ drugs/ self-harming is the ‘easy’ part. Staying stopped is what’s hard. Addiction is an illness, not a choice. Rebuilding your life without your ‘coping mechanism’ is fucking hard work, one day at a time. If it was easy, everyone would do it. Everyone I know on this journey is a MIRACLE.

You’re a fucking Miracle card – Click to buy

‘Don’t quit before the miracle happens’ still echoes in my mind today. These words were repeated to me endlessly when I was new and struggling and I clung onto them for dear life. I longed for the ‘miracle’ to happen and found some degree of comfort in ‘sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly’ because for me it was slooooow. The suffering felt relentless and unending and I wanted to give up so many times. These simple words kept me clinging on, one day at a time, and those days accumulated into weeks, months and eventually years.

Don’t quit before the miracle happens – Click to buy

‘One day at a time’ was also a fundamental tool in my early recovery and one I still utilise today when I’m navigating a painful situation. In the beginning it quite literally kept me sober. All those time I wanted to drink (and for 18 months it was every day!) I repeated this like a mantra. I only had to stay sober for that one day. Just one day. And even though that felt impossible and excruciating, it made it manageable. Now, it keeps me focused on the present day, reminding me to keep my head where my feet are and grateful for all the beauty in today, instead of projecting and worrying about the worst case scenario in the future. What I’ve learned is that most of the time, my fear is actually greater than the reality of a situation.

One Day at a Time card – Click to buy
Keep Going card – Click to buy

The last 10 years have hardly been a smooth ride. I harboured the illusion for a long time that the longer I stayed sober and abstinent from self-harm, the happier I would get. I held the utterly erroneous belief that working the 12 steps would result in a permanent state of euphoria, a plateau of fluffy feelings and a permanent jettison of all negative feelings. Oh how wrong I was! I would propose though that it was my expectations that were faulty, not any program of recovery. Like the Calvin & Hobbs cartoon so simply and eloquently puts it, I may as well have been holding a big fucking neon sign exclaiming “Happiness is not enough. I demand euphoria!” I wanted nirvana. I wanted enlightenment. I wanted complete and utter freedom from my demons. Realistic I think not.

Happy Joyous and Free card – Click to buy

What I’m still learning is that this isn’t possible and THAT’S OK! Happiness is just ONE of many many human emotions and somehow I (and countless others) have made it the sole (or soul!) destination. In sobriety I have experienced real happiness, joy and intense gratitude, full belly laughter and utter hilarity, and I have experienced deep sadness, pain, longing, depression, fear, loneliness and more. I have experienced profound peace and serenity, and I have experienced mood swings, irritability, anger and despair. With this in mind, my ‘Clean and Serene’ card should definitely say ‘Clean and Sometimes Serene’ instead! Next batch I promise!

Clean & Serene card – Click to buy

All my sobriety celebration cards/ AA birthday cards are available to buy in my Etsy shop. Click each photo to be taken to the listing, or click here for multi-card discounts ❤

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Rainbow Greeting Cards | Alcohol inks

As many of you know, everything I do is a labour of love and my greeting cards are no different! Each one is designed with so much love and attention to detail, ensuring that the colours on the card are as true to the original piece as possible (not always an easy feat). Colour is everything after all!

I recently wrote a Behind the Scenes blog post on my process of creating a card which you can find here.

My most recent collection of greeting cards is my most colourful to date. The colours simply pop off the page and everyone comments on how vibrant they are! Photos do not do them justice.

There’s 14 designs to choose from and they can either be bought individually, or 4 for £12 from my Etsy shop.

There’s ones with butterflies…. 
Dream Big Greeting Card – click to view
Pink & Red Butterfly Card – click to view
Orange Butterfly Card – click to view
Teal & Green Butterfly Card – click to view

And there’s ones with rainbows…

Textured Rainbow Card– click to view
Melted Rainbow Card – click to view
Dripped Rainbow Card – click to view
Black Rainbow Card – click to view

And there’s ones for birthdays…

Rainbow Birthday Butterfly Card – click to view
Rainbow Birthday Card – click to view

And many more!

All my greeting cards are blank inside for your own personal message. 

Can’t see what you’re looking for? I am open to suggestions! I’m always looking to expand my range and am currently in the process of designing a brand new range of cards. If there’s a message you’d like on the front of your greeting card, let me know and I’ll add it to my list of my possibilities!

Click here to see my full range of cards or click here for the 4 for £12 offer.

Big love as always,

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Alcohol Ink Coasters | Green & Gold

A few months ago I made a huge batch of alcohol ink coasters but unfortunately the resin used to seal them didn’t cure perfectly (due to inconsistent temperatures during the first week). That’s chemistry, folks! As a result, the mug or glass may leave teeny tiny marks on the coaster, but when I say teeny tiny, they really are! The micro marks are barely perceptible and to be honest, most people wouldn’t even notice them. I however am cursed with chronic perfectionism and my eye is drawn to every single tiny imperfection. The good news is that the marks are only temporary, and usually vanish within a few minutes or hours. Oh the relief when I discovered this!

Green and gold coaster set – available here

Due to the coasters not being 100% perfect I didn’t feel comfortable charging full price for them. They are therefore priced at a bargain 40% off the intended price! Rest assured though, all the alcohol ink coasters are perfectly functional and perfectly beautiful and suitable for hot and cold drinks. They are a stunning addition to any coffee table and guaranteed to be a conversation piece, each one having been individually painted and completely unique!

The colours and shine are near impossible to capture on camera!

As is so common with internet shopping, a static image just doesn’t do the coasters justice. These glorious glossy beauties are, without doubt, doubly gorgeous in real life – the vibrancy of the colours and the mirror-like shine of the resin are just breathtaking and cannot be captured on camera.

Each coaster is backed with cork to prevent scratches on surfaces

These green and gold alcohol ink coasters were created with all the greens from the Ranger collection – Citrus, Lettuce, Bottle and Oregano – and the glittering gold (which really shimmers!) is from the Piñata range.  

Grab yourself a bargain as these alcohol ink coasters are still available at the discounted price of £29.99. International shipping available.

Watch this space for more alcohol ink coaster sets and as I endeavour to attempt the resin process again very soon!

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Sobriety Birthday Card | Send some love & rainbows to someone celebrating their AA birthday

At the end of July I will be 10 years sober and free from self-harm ??

To coincide with this I made my first sobriety birthday card and within the first couple of weeks I’ve sold over half my stock, which I’m beyond excited about! When the first run sells out, my plan is to create a whole range of sobriety cards. It goes without saying that this is very dear to my heart.

Sobriety birthday card – available here

I’ve never spoken publicly about my recovery journey before, but at 10 years the time feels right to start talking about it. A decade feels like a real accomplishment, a real milestone, but never in a million years could I have done this on my own. I have had an immeasurable amount of love and support from others who have walked the walk ahead of me and to them I owe my life. In the words of a wise old friend, I am not proud, I am GRATEFUL. Sobriety was a gift bestowed upon me and I grabbed it with both hands and didn’t look back.

It’s been beyond difficult – undoubtedly the hardest thing I’ve ever done – and the battle with my mental health has continued periodically through the years, but today, as I write this, I feel peaceful, calm and overwhelmed with gratitude.

Creating a sobriety birthday card out of my art just felt like the most natural thing in the world to do. It had to have rainbows, it had to have the right words and it had to be beautiful. I’m not sure anyone not in recovery understands exactly how significant a sobriety birthday is, but to me it is everything. My ‘belly button’ birthday is really not that important, but my sobriety birthday means the world. Every year, every anniversary, I’m reminded of how far I’ve come and what I’ve overcome. I feel an equal vicarious joy whenever I hear about or read about someone else who has achieved multiple years of sobriety. It makes me cry. It’s a miracle, every time.

In addition to this sober anniversary card I have also created a rainbow print with the words that saved my life when I first walked into those anonymous rooms. I was broken, raw and scared – nothing hot about this mess – and people kept saying to me “Don’t quit before the miracle happens!” Their words echoed in my mind every time things got hard, and back then every day was hard, and I clung onto those words with all my might. I hope these words continue to help people in the way they helped me.

Art Print (12 x 12″) – Don’t quit before the miracle happens – available here

Once I’ve sold out of all my sobriety birthday cards (available HERE) I will be introducing a whole new range of recovery celebratory cards. They will be full of joy and rainbows and I can’t wait to share them with you. Ideas and suggestions for what to write on them are welcome!

My ideas so far are:

• Clean and Serene

• Transformed by Grace

• You’re a Fucking Miracle!

• The Best is Yet to Come

• You’re an Inspiration

Until then, please spread the word and share the joy! Watch this space ?