Create your own self-care jar!

Attending to the basics of self care can bring stability, joy and connectedness into our lives.

Have you noticed that things in jars are very popular right now?

Kale smoothies in a jar, milkshakes in a jar, salads in a jar; EVERYTHING seems cooler when it’s in a jar!

So running with the theme, here is a handy little self care ritual that you can do in under an hour, that creates a resource for you to (literally) dip into when you’re feeling low, and of course features a funky jar. The good news is, if you’re not into fads like these, you can use a treasure chest, jewellery box, makeup bag or whatever else you have laying around that can create a contained space.

When we’re feeling our worst we often forget what makes us feel better. 

What you will need:

  • 1 mason jar (any size that appeals but it doesn’t need to be large)
  • printing paper & access to a printer
  • scissors
  • the self-care toolkit list provided below
  • OPTIONAL: Acrylic paint, sharpie or paint pens to decorate your jar OR collage items and wide clear packing tape
  • OPTIONAL: kitchen string or raffia


  1. Download your Self-care toolkit list HERE. Save it to your computer or memory stick.
  2. Print out sheets you just downloaded (using black and white, single sided printing).
  3. Cut out each rectangle along the black lines without reading them in detail (as best you can). Mix them up on the table in front of you.
  4. Take some deep breaths and gently think back to the times you most need solace or comfort, that are still an issue for you in your life and likely to come up again – when are they? (You might like to write this down). This is what this jar will be focused on.
  5. Now pay attention to the pieces of paper. Begin looking at each of the pieces of paper you have cut out. Sort them into two piles ‘relevant to me’ / ‘not relevant to me’ – Determine this by figuring out which ones ‘speak to you’. Discard the not-relevant ones (pop into the recycling bin or compost).
  6. Look through them, and if a key behaviour or message that you think is also useful for your self care is missing, feel free write out a new one on a small rectangle of blank paper and add this to the pile.
  7. With the ones you are keeping, you might like to decorate with a symbol or drawing on the blank side
  8. Place each of these into the jar and as you do so imagine that you are wishing your future self love and care for the times when things feel difficult. You might like to fold each one in half or leave them as is.
  9. If you would like to decorate the jar with a word or an image, a doodle or a small collage please do. Perhaps tie a ribbon or some string around the jar and add some beads or dried flowers.
  10. Finally, put the lid on the jar and think or say a few words of intention or prayer to mark the end of this gentle self care ritual. Know that this resource of carefully thought-out reminders is here for you when you next need it.

Once you have your jar set up you can use it in a number of ways:

Place it somewhere visible so you are reminded that it is there, and anytime you find yourself feeling much better after doing something you might like to add that to the jar. Similarly if you find a comforting thought or new script (message inside your head about yourself or your situation) you might like to add that to your jar.

When you feel stressed / lonely/ blue / worn out go to the jar and see if you can find just ONE thing to do and ONE thing to think that might make yourself feel better that day. You can do this by reading them or by picking a ‘lucky dip’ from the jar with your eyes closed.

You can stick the strip of paper you choose to your computer screen or inside your journal if you need a physical reminder of the self care action you plan to take.

When you’re feeling well, you can use the jar to help plan self care actions for future such as vacation time or to check in on how you’ve been going the last month on self care (upend the jar and have a rifle through and see which ones you’ve remembered about and which ones you’ve maybe forgotten about). You could do some planning for the month ahead and see what kind of self care you’d like to focus on.

If you notice that you have already been doing a number of these things – CELEBRATE! Give yourself credit for all the great practical things you’ve been doing to care for yourself. Notice how far you’ve come.

Remember, there is no one right way to do self care, and no one right way to use this tool. You are unique and your path is unique, so take what helps you, and don’t be afraid to customise the process so that its helpful for your unique context.

Good luck! Email me to let me know if this has been helpful or if there are additional self care actions you’d like to see added to the list.


Please note: this tool is not intended to assist with a mental health crisis or intended as medical advice. It is a tool for ongoing self care and wellbeing. If you are feeling unwell please consult your doctor about physical and mental health. You may be able to access a Mental Health Plan under medicare through which you can access free or discounted sessions with a psychologist. For crisis support call Lifeline. Anyone across Australia experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 – a confidential telephone crisis support service available 24/7 from a landline, payphone or mobile.


Photo by from Pexels

Reader question: help! I can’t slow down.

Q. I run my own business and find I just always want to be working on it. Even when I stop and try to spend time with my family I have ideas and think ‘I could be doing just one more thing’. It’s like in addicted to productivity and can’t stop. It probably doesn’t help that I have a few businesses on the go and true is a lot to do. Have you ever experienced this? What do you do?


A. One thing I learnt about a few years ago as part of my art therapy studies that I hadn’t realised before is that the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response activated) doesn’t turn itself off automatically. There are lots of things that trigger it to fire up (eg. Sitting at a computer raises cortisol levels over time, rushing around, stories about what we find stressful, sense of urgency etc), and so unless we actively do things to ‘swap over’ to our parasympathetic nervous system (rest and recover) it just stays switched on!

Combine that with the feel good hit we get when we tick tasks off the list and the sense of virtue from being productive, ‘getting ahead’ etc and it’s easy to understand why working on our biz can be very alluring and hard to stop indeed! Slowing down can feel boring at first, while we are still ‘wired’. To help to move into the rest state, try a progressive muscle relaxation (squeeze and release all your muscles down the body), a hot shower, a slow -eyes wide open looking around as you walk – walk around the block, or something that focuses the mind on the here and now but feels calming (maybe do something with your hands). Stretching, yawning, releasing through tapping or journalling, these are all great too. This will help the stress hormones lower and it will be easier then to change pace.
Longer term you might find it helpful to look at your stories too (this is not always easy or comfortable and can be usefully explored with a counsellor, therapist, coach or healer). Put on your detective hat and see what stories are underneath your actions. Do you believe that down time is wasted time? Are you telling yourself that you can’t afford down time until you hit X income target? Maybe you think resting is lazy and morally bad, and that someone will come and tell you off if you stop working. Maybe you feel like you’re not a good person and only by staying active you prove you are ok and loveable. Or maybe you’re terrified the business will ‘fail’ and you’ll have to go back to that cleaning/ office/ executive /whatever job you don’t want to do anymore. And so when you stop working the ‘bad feelings’ come, and the quickest way you know to avoid them is to keep working.

Sometimes deep under those ‘bad feelings’ is pain. That pain needs to be heard and felt and honoured. That clears the decks ready for us to have a bit more choice and voice in making our own decisions.

Can you introduce some new stories about self care, quiet time, being present for your family etc? Eg ‘rest is when I recharge’, ‘I deserve time to rest and play’, ‘self care is at the heart of my life’, or ‘slow is when my ideas grow’? Play with something that works for you.

Feeling the feels – tired

Energy levels and what to do with them have been a big theme for my personal growth the past few years. (Oh hang on – is ‘personal growth’ a bit of a new agey cliché? By all means replace with ‘learning/ musing/ reflections/ new habits’ or whatever works).

What to do when I feel dead tired like a lump and have no oomph or get up and go whatsoever.

How to use energy when I have it.

What deflates me.

When I need to rest.

When I am tired in the mind versus tired in the body versus tired from a sugar slump versus tired from not enough sleep. When I feel icky from having absorbed complex emotional stuff that I need time to process. When I feel tired because actually I’m sad. When I feel sad because actually I’m tired.

Getting much better acquainted with what tired is.

I am finding my 100 words for tired like the fabled innuit and snow.

And finding a way to make space for it, accept it and make room for it without fear or judgement or ‘should’. Without fighting it and ‘pushing on’ or ‘soldiering on’ or ‘just doing it’.

I am trying to feel the rhythms of my body much more keenly and create a life that adjusts to them, respects them and works around them – not forcing my body to stick to routine and expected outputs that my mind makes up.

Because who am I to know what important work my body might be doing while I am tired and rest? Which cells might be tinkered with and replaced, which emotions are being sifted through, which memories stored, which ideas are growing in the subterranean dark of my subconscious. I am moving to respect my body’s wisdom much more – even if the Goddess of Efficiency and Productivity is no longer receiving her sacrifice.

Even if my sense of self (attached to energy, creativity and outputs) has to subtly shift over and adjust sometimes to make room for tired, not-creating, listless or idle me.

I practice expanding to embrace both. I practice feeling peace with it all.

Journaling tool – the ‘Thank you and yah me!’ list

You may have heard of the idea of keeping a gratitude journal. I have tweaked the format and finally found a style that works for me. It focuses not only on the external things that you feel thankful for and appreciative of, but also the things you did that you are proud of and happy about. It doesn’t require filling in every day, and you don’t have to think up a set number of things.

A bit like the concept of yin and yang, this version of the gratitude journal allows space for being grateful for the active and the passive – things that happen to us and the things we made happen. It can be particularly powerful if you tend to focus on your shortcomings rather than celebrating the wins, or you struggle with feeling powerful. It reorients you to celebrating the small and kind or brave things that you did as well as noticing the abundance and good fortune in your life.

For example:

Wins this week:

       I’m really pleased that I called Susan back even though it was a hard call to make

       Proud of myself for sticking to my plan for writing my book

       I was super patient with the kids even though I was tired

       Self-care – went for a massage! Yah me!


Grateful for this week:

       This beautiful sunny weather and an afternoon spent in the park

       The gift that arrived in the mail from Aunty Dorris – she is so sweet to always remember our birthday’s

        Clean water – that documentary about those kids made me feel really sad and made me realize how much I take for granted

       That woman who gave me her seat on the bus when I had all the shopping bags to carry


Practical tips:

·      Try to focus just on those things that come up with clear feelings attached to them – don’t let your mind make a lit of everything you ‘should’ feel grateful for

·      I do it in a small journal dedicated to just this, and use the LHS for ‘wins’ and the RHS for ‘grateful for’.

·      I use a double page spread each week and just jot things into it when I get a moment, or am moved to.

·      I keep it in my everyday handbag

·      Those spare moments before your drink arrives at a café, when you’re early to a seated event, or while you’re waiting for a friend to join you – fish out the gratitude journal and fill it out rather than reading social media. Take a few breaths before you start writing and cast your mind back over the day or week.  

·      New week = new double page spread

·      Weeks with very short lists will remind you to reorient yourself towards filling it out more often.


Over time it subtly shifts focus towards recognizing the supportive elements in the world that helped you do what you set out to do, and the inner attributes that also contribute to your good fortune.


Good for: increasing a sense of abundance, building self-confidence and overall appreciation

If you would like more tips for journaling please download my free e-book ’25 fresh ways to get your thoughts and feelings on paper’. Click on the image below to access.

Untitled design


10 books in 2016 challenge – update

If you saw my earlier post on #10books2016 you might know about this gentle and easy to achieve challenge (hey, I’m all for us actually reaching our goals!).

Here is a quick update on just some of the books that people taking the challenge are reading at the moment:

  • Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime”
  • Terry Pratchett’s “The Truth”
  • Hanya Yanagihara’s “A little Life”
  • Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s “Good Omens”
  • Dr. Michelle Mazur’s “Speak up for your Business”
  • Diana Gabaldon’s  Outlander Series Book 6: “A Breath of Snow and Ashes”
  • William Gibson’s “Spook Country”
  • Scott Orson Card’s “Ender’s Game”
  • Lianne Moriarty’s  “Truly, Madly, Guilty”
  • Susan Hill’s “The Soul of Discretion”
  • Karin Slaughter’s “Faithless”
  • Gay Hendricks ‘The Big Leap”
  • Petra Garlipp and Horst Haltenhof’s “Rare Delusional Disorders”
  •  Margaret Atwood’s “The Heart goes Last”
  • Janet C Atlas “They were Still Born”
  • Andrew Miller Dernier “Requiem pour les Innocents”
  • Nick Bantock “Urgent 2nd Class”
  • Colin Gilbert et al.’s “The Daily Book of Art”
  • Nevada Barr’s “A Superior Death”
  • Catherine Hyland Moon’s “Studio Art Therapy”
  • Elizabeth Wolf’s “Plume Fantome”

A mix of sci-fi, crime, literary fiction, young adult, business related non-fiction, art, art therapy and more!

If you are keen to join us by sharing the world’s shortest book reviews ever, encouraging each other to keep reading, and getting great ideas for your book list, come on over and join our Facebook group HERE. It’s free and a no pressure zone.

PS This blog post is #101!! I feel happy to have written 100 little nuggets of thoughts this last year.

10 Books in 2016 challenge!

Calling all book lovers…
Anyone want a reading challenge? How about 10 books in 2016! Yes, I’m aware that 2016 is (more than) half over, but surely we can squeeze out 10 books between now and end of December, even if we haven’t started any so far????

(Think of this as the very late New Year’s resolution for those of us who were busy and distracted at the start of the year but want to cram now and not feel bad come December 🙂 )

This is your happy invitation to dive right into some of those creativity books you haven’t read yet, or maybe the self-help pile, the art therapy texts, the Barbara Sher books, the illustrated gardening books, the crime fiction or the graphic novels (or is that just me?? LOL).

Yes audio books count! Yes half finished books count (as half a book!). Yes even re-reading counts!

Who wants to join me?

And we can report back on our progress as the year unfolds.

Reading is one of my great pleasures, and helps me refill my creative well, as well as stay up to date in my professional fields. And articles are GREAT, and books are something else again.

And if you manage to read more than 10 – awesome! And if you read less – also awesome! Reading some, and trying totally counts.

So launching the not very elegant but as far as I can tell not yet taken hashtag of:

Let me know below if you’ll join me 🙂


And please excuse the extreme overabundance of blog posts this week – I had a little tech glitch which made me post two in a row. This one however is just down to sheer excitement.

What kind of books?

Completely up to you!

  • Any genre
  • Any authors
  • Books in any language
  • Fiction or non-fiction
  • Audiobooks are fine
  • Work related or non work related books are fine
  • Short books are fine
  • Short story or poetry anthologies are fine
  • Illustrated books, ‘coffee table books’ and graphic novels are fine
  • Rereading old favourites is fine
  • Finishing half started books is fine

How to join?

This is free, and just for fun, and to help us all reach our reading goals and feel good about what we’ve read for 2016.

To join please comment below AND either sign up to my blog or my mailing list. I wont over email you I promise (as evidenced by my zero newsletters so far!!). This way I can give a few prompts along the way to encourage us all. Then.. just get reading! And anywhere you want to share a photo of the book you are reading or a cool quote from the book you are reading, or an update on how you are going against your goal just use the hashtag #10books2016

UPDATE: I have created a new facebook group for members of the challenge! Come over and join us here:


Viva le bookish folk!

Taking time out for creativity is a gift to ourselves

I am busy planning and preparing for my latest 6 week Women’s Wellbeing Groups here in Sydney. I love to run groups that go beyond a single workshop because it really feels like a journey – participants journey deeper into themselves, they journey into a shared space with trust and they journey in relation to their own creative expression: trusting that, enjoying that, seeking wisdom in that.

I think people are often surprised at just how connected they can become to their own art making and also each other within a few short hours each week.

I see this as a beautiful circle – when we make art we set down our defences and become a little bit more vulnerable. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable around others opens us up for connection with others. As we begin to connect with others in a safe and respectful setting we feel less alone and more comfortable expressing our feelings and experiences. As we feel more comfortable expressing our feelings and experiences we are willing to go deeper into the art making as a tool for expression and making meaning. And so it goes, deepening connection with our art making and with each other.

Safety is paramount for art therapy – not in terms of physical safety (although of course we offer that!) but emotional, interpersonal, psychological safety. To create a safe feeling space we need to offer some stability, some predictability and structure. Making sure we have clear ground rules, that we have some consistency of process, that people feel welcomed and seen, accepted without judgement is a big part of laying the foundations for the work we do.

People often find that in a well facilitated group they feel safer to try art making than they do at home. Less distractions likely plays a part in this, but it’s something more than that. It’s the safety of exploring new materials when we have a trusted guide. It’s the feeling of companionship when others are trying new things as well, working alongside us. It’s the guilt-free dedication of time (“I have to go…after all, I’ve committed to it” you might tell yourself).

It’s a gift to ourselves, to make time for creativity.

We give ourselves permission to emerge refreshed, challenged, changed.

We give ourselves the chance to experience whimsy, joy, surprise.

We give ourselves trust, that we can handle an unfamiliar situation, and hope, that we will benefit from it.

When we do this in group we also give ourselves companionship, honouring and connection.

And as women, to give to ourselves this time, for no other reason than the fact that we would like to experience it, is a wonderful, wild, investment in self care and kindness to our creative selves.


Interested in joining us?

Join us to relax, restore and reflect – take some time for your wellbeing. This 6 week women’s group meets weekly in face to face mode in Sydney and is DELICIOUS!

It has been described as like attending a mini retreat every week.

If ‘art’, ‘art therapy or even ‘creativity’ are words you have mixed feelings about – don’t worry, you are still welcome here:
– all processes are simple and suitable for beginners
– all art materials are provided
– the space is calm and beautiful, the discussion is frank and deep
– I will explain and demonstrate how to use any new materials that you might not be familiar with
– unlike an art class the focus is not on ‘pretty’ outcomes, but on raw, authentic expression – whatever you do will be the right thing for the moment and there is no competition or need for comparisons

We have a Friday morning option and a Wednesday evening option – book into whichever suits your schedule best.

‘Finally found a space that made me feel like I was truly doing something for myself. The art therapy group with Jade was inspiring, creative, liberating and nourishing. It was wonderful to share feelings and experiences with other women through art, and I enjoyed experimenting with every technique we used week after week.’ – Valentina

Book or more info 

Delight the senses this winter

Here in the Southern hemisphere we are heading into winter.

For some of us that means no real change: more hot, and maybe just less rain (hello people in the tropics!). For those of us in Australia however, especially those living along the South and East coasts we find the days shortening, rain coming and the sky pulling on that winter shawl that Europe does very well in Winter but we emulate as best we can.

And winter can mean drab.

Winter can mean black and grey as far as the eye can see.

It can mean struggling with rain and damp shoes and wet cuffs and inside out umbrellas during torrential rain.

Winter in Sydney can be that special brand of denial – pretending it’s not arriving and clinging defiantly to our lightweight summer clothes as long as we can and standing at bus stops feeling like the wind is an ice sliver stabbing you in the eye.

And all that.

So what will you do to warm the cockles of your heart when the temperature drops and going out seems a pain and getting around feels wet and cold and miserable?

Here are 10 fresh ways to add zest and colour to your winter days:

  1. Wear a colour you don’t normally wear and find a way to love it. I am embracing both brown and maroon (so so so not my normal colours) and having fun with it too.
  2. Dress to a theme that only you know about! I don’t mean fancy dress, unless you want to really create a stir at the supermarket, I mean a little nod to some fashion or theme that makes you smile. A marquisette brooch and a curled fringe for 1940’s understated glamour, lippy and a fluffy wrap for sexy 60’s starlet, a particularly nice tie pin or vintage bag for suave dapper gent, or maybe a dash of steampunk, 70’s newsreader or holiday maker from the Riveriera. Whatever makes you smile and you can discretely pop into your 9-5.
  3. Wear the brightest, funkiest underwear or socks you have.  For no reason, wear the ‘good stuff’.
  4. Pop with colour on the inside and give your tastebuds a treat as well – eat your greens, your blues, your yellows, reds and oranges. Try sizzling hot spices and warm yourself inside out. Time for a curry? A hotpot? Warm soup?
  5. Get a throw or some cushions that feel soft and cuddly, velvety and comforting. Get a snuggly scarf or splurge on some warm and silky tights. If you don’t want to buy more stuff just swap with a friend to get a fresh look. I’m serious; the sharing economy!
  6. Use fire to light up your inner flame – candles at the dinner table or tea lights in the bath room while you enjoy your hot bath (used safely! Never unattended, seriously, someone I know just had their house burn down because they forgot to blow one out.) If candles aren’t your bag what about solar powered fairy lights for the garden or some warm looking lamps indoors?
  7. People can be more isolated in winter. If you crave closeness or touch why not try a dance class or get an aromatherapy massage. If social contact of any kind is something you crave you could find a way to volunteer that creates contact with people or animals in a way that you find nourishing – visiting the elderly, reading for the sight impaired, walking dogs for a shelter, etc.
  8. Use smell to beat that icy cold blankness of winter – try an oil burner with lemongrass, yang yang, up notes of citrus (bergamot and limeade both favourites of mine), or sandalwood.
  9. If you feel bleak or melancholy try writing about it, or even look up some poems about the seasons to discover that people through the ages have been affected by and observant of the changes in the seasons. Document the sensations, the feelings of winter.
  10. If you can’t beat ’em join ’em – in nature winter is about rest and rejuvenation. The soil is conditioned by the fallen leaves, plants look bare while the work happens under the surface to build new buds and growth for spring. Embrace the cold and bare time to go deeper and process the year that’s been. What work can you be doing under the surface to help some new growth appear in spring? Maybe this is a time for rest and consolidation. Go with it!

Sometimes self care means delighting the senses, honouring how we feel and creating a sense of delight for ourselves.


Do you do it in public?

Make art that is. These guys do!

Are you quite comfortable making art in front of other people and in public?

Artist and art teacher Chris Mostyn:  I’ll draw in cafes, the lunchroom, anywhere I can. If I don’t draw for a couple of days I get really irritable. I start getting grouchy and short with my family and everyone else. They all kind of know ‘just go and draw something’.When I do comics I do it in a small book, because my schedule is busy, so if I’m sitting down to have a cup of coffee after work I need to be drawing while I’m doing that.I bought a basket for the front of my bike that has a roll down wet bag so I can put my art supplies in – so its my art studio on the go.

One of Chris’ sketch books

I have dozens of sketchbooks around. We go to a church on a Sunday morning and I’ll draw while I’m listening, it helps me to concentrate, so I’ll sit and draw people walking around and doing things and occasionally there will be words in there of what was being said. And then I have another book which is just for observational drawings when I’m travelling, and then I have a book that’s more like a journal, like ‘it’s October 4th and I’m doing blah blah blah, I’m eating this and I’m drinking that’. But one small book is just for the comics.

Student and crafter Mercedes Hughes-Barlow: I once crocheted an entire king size blanket while working as a substitute teacher. I no longer substitute but I do take projects with me while I wait for appointments, crochet or embroidery most often when I am not working on homework anyway. And I always carry my camera and take pictures of things that strike my fancy. When I’m working on crochet I use a giant reusable shopping bag from Costco to carry my gear around with me, for embroidery I use a ziplock baggie in my purse (which is giant). People are usually interested in what I am doing and want to know if it is difficult, and why I crochet or do embroidery and how I learned.

Artist and Art therapist Gretchen Miller: For sure, I’ve pulled out my stuff in an airplane, putting the tray down and just clearing some space. All I need is a gluestick, and I have a TSA approved pair of scissors that I bring. I don’t need a whole lot, just some collage bits or I use the magazine thats in the seat in front of me, or things I’ve picked up on my travels. Or waiting, like this year I got super delayed going to the American Art Therapy Association Conference, it should have been a super quick trip but it was really extended, it turned into all day at the airport. I was like ‘OK so what am I going to do? I’m going to make some art. I’ve got time, I’ve got my stuff here, so… that’s what I did.’

Writer Sarah J. Sequins: I used to write a lot in public. At the hotel on the University campus, actually. Novels and short stories. The change of scenery helped me get a lot of things done, more so than if I’d stayed home. Just about the only problem I had was with strange men who thought I was there to meet them… even though I was clearly wearing earplugs. Sometimes they wouldn’t even wait for me to take the earplugs out to start yakking!

A still life starbucks
A coffee shop still life by Carol

Also, I have to share one of my favorite characters with you. He was an older man named Bob, and I called him Wandering Bob because he would sit down in the lobby for a minute, mutter to himself, then get up and shuffle away again. Over and over and over. It got to the point where he became comfortable enough with me to ask me to watch his things while he wandered… including an enormous old-fashioned suitcase. I always wondered what was in it, but I never peeked 😉

Most of the time I carried around a blank artist’s sketchbook for my writing. I went through at least eight of them in all my trips to the hotel, and I named them the Write Brothers. Notebooks were easier to carry around than my laptop, which I only hauled around on special occasions (like National Novel Writing Month, where speed was important). I carried it in a vinyl tote bag, which had plenty of pockets for pens and highlighters. I also had a thin hardcover book that I brought everywhere with me. It was the same length and width as a typical sheet of printer paper and was great for a makeshift lap desk when I was editing printed drafts of my projects.

Artist and art therapist Carol Rice: Making art in coffee shops is my favorite thing to do. It’s the best part of my week. Mostly I work in art journals, I have started making my own. Here is a still life at Starbucks from one of my journals. I made this picture at a coffee house too, it’s about 11×14″. Later I framed it and sold it (image below).  

I have an amazing, even magical bag to carry my art supplies in (see main photo for this blog post). My daughter made it for me, and I carry it everywhere. Very rarely do people ever make any comment about what I am doing. In fact I rarely even notice people looking my direction, even though my supplies spread out as I make art. I usually spend an hour or two making art. The people who have made comments to me are usually artists themselves.

a coffee house mandala
An artwork made in public by Carol and later sold

One time I was making art while on an airplane, where you are squished up against other people, and I was busy putting holes in my art journal pages and collaging around the holes. A girl of about 10 sat next to me and stared with a frown. But I was so busy and in the process that I just blocked her out. I am quite happy with my “blocking people out” abilities. I didn’t used to have them.

If I am feeling nervous about being in public, I start with writing in my journal, and then pretty soon I am engrossed in my process, and one thing leads to another–the markers come out, the glue and collage items, scissors, the watercolors. It’s like I am not really happy till all my supplies are out and being used!

Keen crafter, Homeschooling mother and tutor Peg: I take smaller sizes of crochet and knitting to any place I will have to wait for any length of time (doctor’s appointments, chemo with my friend, kids’ lessons, etc) and on airplanes. I once made a sculpy clay dragon at the park too. Oh, and origami and iris folding greeting cards. Tried quilling but that was too easily blown away by wind. I will carry crafty things pretty much anywhere.

archery hat
Archery hat made in public by Peg

I have a large canvas bag which I painted a dragon on, it holds whatever project I am working on. For the paper projects I have old plastic kid case things that I just put the supplies I need in, it also functions as a sort of lap table. For the clay I used two large plastic food storage containers. Most people are curious about what I am making, say nice things about how nice it looks. The hat I made recently, archery target, was started at a preschool open house where I was working taking applications.

How about you? Do you make art in public? Craft up a storm in waiting rooms? Try your hand at sculpture in the park? Or maybe inspired to try? Let us know in the comments below! 




About the folk mentioned in this article:

Mercedes: I live in Oregon and I am addicted to learning. I am currently an online student and when not doing school or crafts I hike and fish near where I live.

Peg: I love doing almost anything crafty, reading, proofreading, singing, yoga, martial arts, Reiki, research. I currently work as a Homeschooling mother, reading and math tutor.

Sarah: I am a writer, jewelry artist, and professional puppy wrangler living in the Midwest. In my spare time I cook tasty vegetarian food and play with my ever-growing collection of customized Barbie dolls. You can find me at

Carol: I live in New Mexico and work as an art therapist and counselor. My hobby is making art in coffee shops.

Gretchen: I am an art therapist, art therapy teacher and mixed media artist who loves art collaborations. My blog is Creativity in Motion.

Chris: I am a middle school art teacher, artist and comic strip illustrator who is passionate about kids and creativity. You can check out my comics at



To experience art making in a low pressure environment with supportive friendly people try one of my Sydney workshops, including the next round of Women’s Wellbeing Workshops. Details for all up coming weekday evening, weekday morning, and Saturday events are listed HERE.

JadephotoAbout the author: Jade Herriman, BSc, MSocSci, DipTAT is a Sydney-based transpersonal art therapist, Barbara Sher coach and facilitator. She works with clients to help bring more creativity into their lives, plan for their professional development, manage big life change and go after their dreams. She works with groups, individuals and online to deliver workshops and help support people work towards their dreams. She is pleased to be presenting a full program of art therapy, creativity and coaching workshops in 2017 including a series of Women’s Wellbeing groups and mixed media art making workshop. She brings a playful, flexible and creative approach to serious issues, and draws on many years of experience working in organisations in project management, policy and research roles to bring practical solutions to her clients.