On bodies, fragility, and journaling

Mal | Art Journal,Media,Paper | Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Bodies are Fragile

It’s been a bit of a rough patch at work. I know that this kind of thing is to be expected when you work at a hospital or hospice. (PS: “This kind of thing” is death and, whether we like to talk about it or not,¬†death is to be expected for all of us.)


One of the things I like best about my job is that it keeps me constantly aware of the brevity of life, the preciousness of every day, and the power of human connection. I process these big emotions in my art journal, as always. The image above was done in the subway on my way home from work one evening last week.

Am I hungry?

Bodies and health have been much on my mind recently, and not just because of work. I’m trying to return to better eating habits and nutrition (you may recall), so naturally these themes are showing up in my journals, too.

The plateau

It is my life’s struggle to explore my relationship to food and its effects (positive and negative) on my body. This image was made as I contemplated last year’s dramatic and successful loss of 80 pounds, and post-medical-crisis plateau in weight. There I stand, a little figure on the precipice of the plateau, wondering how to jump off into the next phase of health.

Just begin

Thankfully, my journal often reveals answers when I ask it questions.

What about you? Do you journal?


  1. you do such wonderful exploring!

    Comment by upstatelisa — 29 July 2009 @ 1:29 pm

  2. [...] Original post by turning*turning [...]

    Pingback by Weight Loss » Blog Archive » On bodies, fragility, and journaling — 29 July 2009 @ 2:23 pm

  3. I don’t journal. But I have two Bernese Mountain Dogs, and their coats absolutely *require* frequent brushing and combing. My current pair of cats don’t take as well to brushing as previous cats did, which is sad; I used to brush my cats on the bed.

    I also quilt. Well, I make quilt tops and SOMETIMES they actually get quilted!

    The worse I feel, the better my dogs tend to look, at least so far as brushing is concerned. I need to feel pretty good to give either of them a bath, so that’s not as reliable an indicator of my emotional status. But the brushing is. It’s very Zen-like and relaxing to brush a dog who has been raised to enjoy such attention. Both of us enjoy it.

    I’m often able to get to sleep after a good brushing session, or at least breathe more deeply.

    Re. the quilting: cutting fabric, or sewing strips and then cutting them into smaller units, is satisfying, too. It’s a tangible result at a time (often) when good, tangible results are hard to come by.

    If I’m really stuck and can’t even negotiate the stairs down to where the sewing machine lives, I crochet hats to go to (wo)men in chemotherapy who have lost their hair. No danger of sticking myself with a pin or slicing the wrong part of a piece of fabric or even brush-burning doggy ears. Just yarn and more yarn and double crochet, dbl st, dbl st, until it’s time for sl st and a new round…

    Life. No one gets out alive. But I’ve always believed that it is our life duty to do as much good for others as we can manage for as long as we’re here.

    Ta tvam asi. Namaste.

    Comment by Cynthia H. — 29 July 2009 @ 10:06 pm

  4. I love Cynthia’s comment, “Life. No one gets out alive.”

    Journaling always has given me insights into things I can’t seem to figure out. Somehow writing things down makes it more clear. it gets things unstuck. Perhaps the reason I haven’t been progressing lately is because I haven’t journaled in quite a long time.

    Comment by Laura Smith — 30 July 2009 @ 7:10 am

  5. It never occurred to me that I could draw in a journal about my eating problems. Thanks for sharing your pages with everyone. A little light bulb just turned on!

    Comment by Janet — 30 July 2009 @ 8:01 am

  6. Funny that you should post this just now – last night I dug out my journal (that last entry was in 2002) and wrote a little reminder/recommitment to healthy eating. In 2007-2008, I lost 75 pounds following gallbladder problems and surgery. In June of 2008, I lost my job, gained anxiety and depression, and lost control of my eating habits. It’s gradually gotten worse and last night I finally had enough of feeling guilty, feeling sick, feeling tired, and feeling old. I reminded myself that I CAN do this, I AM worth it, and I WILL remind myself whenever I feel the urge to binge. I don’t draw in my journal, but words help me.

    Comment by Sandi — 30 July 2009 @ 8:10 am

  7. Copiously at times, overtime patterns have emerge that were too subtle (not once I saw them!) to have noticed otherwise. Then when they come up again, I say to myself, “Okay… this is that again, just a different take.” It helps. =D

    Comment by Leslie — 30 July 2009 @ 8:13 am

  8. journalling.
    I think I started before I was eleven. I used journalling in a powerful way in my eating disorder recovery. Blogging has sort of replaced my journalling… but the more I become aware of my audience, the more reserved I become in my true expressions.

    My plateau has been more subconscious, and not terribly visibly dramatic- a weight gain of twenty pounds, and with it, years of guilt and self-torture for not being able to lose it. I seem to believe that I will only be completely back to completely “well” when I drop back down… I don’t like to be this size.

    But I suspect that feeling shitty about myself is serving some sort of psychological purpose. Of course that weight gain coincided with something really stressful and frightening in my life.

    I suspect that I will live out the rest of my life not regaining the clearness of mind that I enjoyed after my initial recovery. (I had five really good years after that. Now it’s been about ten years of mental struggle…) I can get really discouraged about it.

    Do I journal? sort of. Should I start up another, completely private blogspot that no one knows about and then totally spill my guts? (I like the typing…)

    maybe not…

    Comment by re-joyce — 31 July 2009 @ 6:33 pm

  9. i do journal – but its mostly writing with occasional jots of ideas i have for art. i love your sketches. can you please tell me what that is in the background behind your photos – some kind of pretty, colorful swirly material.

    also, thank you for your honesty about your eating issues.

    your job sounds VERY interesting. i didn’t know there WAS such a thing. i am curious to know more. i will continue to read through your blog – i just surfed into it today from gennines art blog (mostly i’m procrastinating working on my recent art quilt, but also i’m trying to bring awareness to my scrap giveaway that i just posted – i linked the giveaway to the art now for autism auction – please considering entering). thanks for your inspiration on art journaling. i’m bookmarking your site.

    Comment by Leah — 1 August 2009 @ 9:46 am

  10. My brother just asked me whether or not I keep a journal this past weekend. I told him I have kept a journal a few times in my life but not for long.

    However, I do blog and have many of them. Aspects of my life are recorded in all of them, but they are on separate topics at the same time. I suppose if I needed to I could piece together a significant history of my life from reading blogs and websites I have operated.

    Comment by Bakari — 3 August 2009 @ 11:39 am

  11. [...] like to be inspired to do some nontraditional journaling, check out creative blogs Art Slam and Turning*Turning. While I work in words alone, making something visual might be a more effective approach for [...]

    Pingback by Journaling « The Smiths’ Occasional Blog — 9 September 2009 @ 7:42 am

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