Altered Book Gratitude Art Journal

I found this very pretty journal at my local Tuesday Morning store for $2.99.


It has a lovely light blue hue, it’s lined, and every few pages or so, it has a quote from one of the Bronte Sisters.

I know, it seems silly to alter a book for a journal that’s actually already a journal, but I want to add color and pictures to it, since I’m really enjoying the art journaling.  It has nice thick pages and is sewn together, not just glued.

It’s going to double as a gratitude journal.  I recently got the tickle for the idea from LadyRomp, who heard it first from Oprah (and, as an aside, remind me to post about Oprah and some of the great things I’ve come across because of her).

And because of that, I mentioned my interest in making a gratitude ART journal it to Dana from St. John Studios.  Well, she decided to make a post about gratitude journals.  Well, in response to her art journaling prompt, I made my first gratitude art journal page.

After I made the previous post about my parents, I realized, as I was bawling my eyes out while writing the whole post, something I was really grateful for was my parents, as dysfunctional as they were.  It’s not really their fault, they didn’t have Oprah or the internet back then.  Maybe if my mother had the Oprah or internet, she would have found better women to emulate.

I first prepped the pages with a layer of gesso, then with a few dots of two different colored Liquitex Basics acrylic paints, I smeared the colors across the page.  I printed out my parents photograph and used a sharpie for the text on the right.  Next time, I’ll use my fountain pen and ink that I forgot about.

I am grateful to my parents even though they weren’t very nice to each other most of my life.  My mother was really mean to my sisters and I, but I see the blessings in who I am because of who they were and what we’ve all have struggled with.

I am stronger, more insightful, more empathetic, because of what they had been through which cast a long shadow on my whole life.

About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
This entry was posted in Altered Books, appreciation, Art Journaling, Blessings, Gratitude. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Altered Book Gratitude Art Journal

  1. Wonderful! It’s serendipitous…I had been working on my draft about our fam’s Thank-You-For’s, and you made it all the perfect timing!
    I am so looking forwars to seeing how it progresses.
    I love your optimistic outlook and your joy in life 🙂
    xoxo MotherDana

  2. MotherDana

    🙂 I have generally a subdued, melancholy personality, but when I do art, or write, I’m able to find the joy and optimism. Today, I was crying through most of the previous post about my parents. It’s only been very recently that I’ve had a bit of understanding in who they are as people. Looking through old photographs of my mother as a young girl (I mean, like a toddler), it really hit home to me that before she was my mother, she was a totally different person. Something in her life changed her from a laughing, joyful child into a very unhappy person. And because she was unhappy, she made everyone else around her unhappy too.

    I don’t want to be like that. I struggle with maintaining happiness. But art is helping.

    It’s funny. I heard it said on a blog recently that “creating art is a birthing process”. But, it’s kind of strange how I feel changed by the process. Am I making art? Or is art (re-)making me? I am not sure. But now I get what Carl Jung meant when he had a mystical experience when sitting on a rock – he couldn’t tell if he was the man…or the rock.

    • It’s funny (maybe not so much ha-ha funny) but in your pics on your blog, you also have a warm and loving smile. I really do feel that looking at you, and your smile IS contagious!
      While you may feel so often melancholy and pensive, somewhere in there is joy and happiness, too. It must be…I’ve been reading much of your writings, I do hear what you are saying about your “public” self and your private self. It’s not that I’m ignoring that. But you have a lovely and warm aura surrounding you 🙂

      • Thank you MotherDana,

        I do find moments of joy, but I also struggle with depression. It’s worse in the winter (and I live in the Northern States so I don’t get a lot of sunlight during the winter).

        I have thought about this and researched this a lot. I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis which is an autoimmune disease of the thyroid – it’s that gland in your throat that governs your metabolism and hormones – that’s currently being untreated. I really believe I ‘burned out’ my thyroid with the years of stress (work and personal) that I’ve experienced.

        Untreated thyroid disease can put a person on the ‘mood spectrum’ of bipolar disorders (there’s not just one type, there are several types – bipolar I which almost always requires medication, bipolar II which can be managed with careful lifestyle changes (consistent sleep and exercise) and fish oil, and other soft bipolar types (like cycloclythmia). Jim Phelps work talks a lot about this correlation in his book Why Am I Still Depressed? and on his website:

        So does the Thyroid Solution book by Ridha Arem, M.D.

        You can of course have both, or have one but not the other. I know for sure I have hashimoto’s coupled with a creative personality (another factor which makes me sensitive to mood fluctuations).

        Needless to say, without a fully functioning thyroid, my moods get dodgy. When I’m excited, I get thrilled and my energy levels soar (but then coming down from that creative ‘high’ is difficult), when I’m low, I’m really low.

        Couple this organic reason to having just come out of a very difficult spell in my marriage. Just prior to my husband being laid of for the second time in his mechanical engineering career, he was under extreme work stress, popping Xanax for panic attacks and drinking a little more than usual. Then he got laid off (they were laying of LOTs of people, not just him). My husband’s been laid off for 18 months. We both had our destructive ways of coping with the stresses we’ve both been under.

        And, well, I haven’t been able to share my burdens with my mother, my sisters and I lack real-life friendship, which I’m learning to be okay with.

        Then of course, there’s always the family of origin stuff always under the surface. It comes out in weird ways. Something will make me angry…and I’ll have trouble curbing my tongue (or my fingers if I’m interacting online).

        And, while it’s healing to be crying about the decades-old stuff, it is still rough to go through. I’ll be 42 this year. Probably by the time I’m 50, I’ll have run out of things to cry about. 🙂

        But by then I’ll have hit menopause…and then have new mood issues to navigate.

        Then there is something I learned from creativity coach Eric Maisel’s The Van Gogh Blues. You can get a taste of it here:

        “In the Introduction to his book The Van Gogh Blues, creativity coach and author Eric Maisel, PhD writes:

        “Creators have trouble maintaining meaning. Creating is one of the ways they endeavor to maintain meaning.

        “In the act of creation, they lay a veneer of meaning over meaninglessness and sometimes produce work that helps others maintain meaning.

        “This is why creating is such a crucial activity in the life of a creator: It is one of the ways, and often the most important way, that she manages to make life feel meaningful. Not creating is depressing because she is not making meaning when she is not creating.”

        So even without obvious life circumstantial REASONS to be depressed, for a creative person, who derives meaning from creating, not creating all the time is depressing.

        And while it’s probably a longer response than you were interested in, I’m laying down the tracks for a new series of posts about creativity and depression.

        If I appear happy in my pictures or in my writing, it’s because the process of creating my writing or being in certain places like nature helps lift my mood.

        Optimism is certainly in me, and yet it’s because I’ve experienced a great deal of its opposite that I value and cultivate it.

        • Well, I did invite response from a writer 🙂
          Someday under another forum, we might chat further about all of this. I have moved through many like circumstances as you seem to be moving. I do understand what you are going through, at least to a degree…Accept the compliments I offer, your brightness is in there, if you want it 🙂

      • Thank you very much, MotherDana.

        Oh, for certain, I’ll take the compliments. 🙂 It’s certainly lovely to hear them. I do appreciate you, and thank you for taking the time to talk with me. The blog conversations are one of the blessings in my life.

  3. Tineke Brinks says:

    I read your last posts and I send a big hug to you for your courage to tell all this in your blog. I think all this is important and supportive for everybody who struggles with parent-child relationships or relationships in general. I do think too that maybe if your father had married another woman things might have turned out differently for him. People react to each other and nowadays we can find a lot of info and help but in the 60’s that was not the case. Bless you for sharing all this.

    • Tineke

      Hi, thanks so much for the cyber hug.

      It’s been a long few years of deep self-reflection and a slow process of discovering just who my parents were before they became married and had kids. These two posts yesterday prompted me to call my dad up and talk and also to write a poem (which I think is a little too private to share publicly).

      I don’t want to villify my mother, but she was in need of help she didn’t get. I am strong, and a bit sassy, in large part because of her. Those traits had been helpful when I needed to advocate for my daughters, but generally speaking, being sassy doesn’t earn friendship or work out conflict with people.

      But I’ve come in contact with various people who have left positive impressions on me.
      I’ve had a great therapist for the past year and a half who’d been giving me (and my husband) a few resources for spiritual growth. I’ve shared a few things I’ve found on my own as well [including some surprising things from Oprah. :)]

      I want to be a better mother and wife than my mother was. My husband and I have come through a lot of difficult stuff over the past few years. My daughters are very sensitive, just like I am. Navigating parent child conflicts isn’t easy for me, because I get scared when my daughters exert their stubbornness, which they’ve gotten from me.

      But they’ve also inherited new and unusual fears, just from being in this more complex world too. Things I hadn’t had to worry about at all as a child. Like ‘code red’ drills at school – where the school practices lockdowns in case someone attacks the school.

      Oh, and my dad DID marry a wonderful lady after my mother (and my dad introduced her to me and my sisters on my 3rd birthday). My stepmother is one of the gentlest souls you could ever meet. She used her savings to help my dad take my mother to court to make sure he got visitation rights. They tell me my mother was threatened with contempt of court from the judge because she was trying so hard to prevent him from seeing us.

      • Tineke Brinks says:

        Good for you. The only thing I want to say is: you don’t have to be a better mother than your mother. Just different. Trying to be better is comparing yourself and that never works. Be the mother you want to be that is all that matters, there are no mistakes.

      • You know, that is exactly right. I actually don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what my mother did or failed to do. I read a lot of books looking for things that make sense to me. And, when I art journal or write, I think of the kinds of qualities I want to have. Of course, being nurturing in calm moments are easy. The tougher part is nurturing in the middle of one of their meltdowns (the younger two have them, not the oldest) or when they bicker with each other or when they need to do something they really don’t want to do. Those are the moments when I need to handle things differently than I was handled.

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