15 May

Rescuing a Bad Day

I’m having a bad day, and no, I don’t want to talk about it. Okay, maybe just a little…I made a beautiful pot of soup this morning and burned it all up this afternoon. Don’t ask: I have no idea how.

Just writing that made me feel better.

Rescuing a Bad Day | DebzWeb.com



I think showing off would help too, so here goes.

First, I finally got to make a baby blanket, for my niece Veronica (and Marc and their soon-to-be-born son).



Then Samantha asked me to knit some fingerless gloves for her.

Fingerless Gloves | DebzWeb.com



Fingerless Gloves | DebzWeb.com




I thought these turned out really well.

 Now I want some for myself.


In fact, I think I’ll sit and knit and watch Treatment (a really good TV show).

And eat some bonbons.

Okay, well, I gotta go.


08 May

Post Traumatic Growth Syndrome?

Trauma happens. While we can’t control the struggles life hands us, we can choose our response.

I knew that, but I hadn’t heard it called “post traumatic growth” until this morning in a post by painter Robert Genn: “Post-traumatic growth is a relatively new area of psychological study. It deals with the positive changes experienced by some people as a result of a struggle with challenging life circumstances. It’s not simply a return to the way things were before the suffering, but the welcome experience of a profound improvement.”

Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been through real struggles raising my children. Not just the normal struggles of parenting, but the horrors of mental illness, institutionalization and addiction. My kids are doing much better now, in their 20s, but it’s been a long dark road getting here.

Along the way, I learned that the world was willing to let me be “poor Debbie.” But even in the darkest days, I knew I didn’t want to go there. I wanted to be someone who Rose To The Occasion.

I remember telling my mother that I didn’t feel sorry for myself. “How could you not?” she asked, incredulously. What she didn’t understand is that my children have been my greatest teachers in life. They’ve taught me about humility, compassion and resilience, and helped me become the person I am today – a person I like a lot more than I did before.

I don’t wish hard times on anyone. But I do know that there’s another side to difficulty: post traumatic growth.

04 May

7 Journal Prompts To Get You Started

Sometimes I Wonder | DebzWeb.com


Several friends came over last week with their beautiful journals – and nothing in them. I’ve been thinking about how I could help them – and you – get going.

Here are a few ideas:

1. Open your journal to a random page and draw a vertical line dividing the page in half. On the left side, write down what the Critic inside is saying. (“You’re no good, you don’t have anything to say, blah, blah, blah.) On the right side of the page, use your non-dominant hand to talk back.

2. List 100 Things That Make Me Happy. I can already hear someone saying, “That’s way too many! I can’t do it!” Relax. Use any big number that will help you get past the answers you already know. Let yourself surprise you – that’s where the juice is.

3. Write at the top of a page, “Sometimes I Wonder.” Then list whatever thoughts or questions come up, big or small, profound or silly.

4. Write a letter to Little You, telling her what you wish you’d known then. Then let her write back to you – and pay attention to her wisdom.

5. Pick a word or phrase that captures how you’re feeling at the moment. Write it down – BIG. Draw an outline around it. Draw an outline around the outline. Draw another around that, and so on till you’ve filled up the page.

6. Cut out words and images from a magazine. Paste one or two onto random pages in your journal. When you come to that page, let the image/word inspire you.

7. Divide a page in half, vertically. On one side, list “Qualities I Like About Myself.” On the other, list “Qualities I’d Like to Cultivate.”

One more word of advice: Lighten up. It’s okay to have fun with this. In fact, that’s the whole point.

28 Apr

What’s Up With Doodles?

Doodles | DebzWeb.com Doodling is no longer just about making marks in the margin of your notebook. It’s a big deal, in everything from journaling and scrapbooking to advertising and art.

Still, I didn’t expect to read about it in the Wall Street Journal. Doodling is no longer just about making marks in the margin of your notebook. It’s a big deal, in everything from journaling and scrapbooking to advertising and art.
Still, I didn’t expect to read about it in the Wall Street Journal.

But there it was: “Doodling for Dollars,” how businesses are using doodling to explain complex ideas and generate new ones. They don’t actually call it doodling of course. It’s now “visual note-taking” or “graphic recording,” and companies hire experts to teach it.  (What a great job!)
I could have told them that doodling helps you think better – in fact, I tried. But now researchers back me up. They’ve found thatdoodlers retain information than non-doodlers, particularly in a boring setting. Why? While the rest of the group is daydreaming, doodlers are using just enough mental energy to stay focused.

Besides, doodling is fun. It can be a kind of meditation, as with Zentangles. Or an art form, Doodles | DebzWeb.comas in magazines like Juxtapoz. Or just a way to pass the time when you’re stuck in a dull class or meeting.

Everyone has her own style of doodling. But you can expand your range by seeing what other people are doing. For a simple introduction, check out Creative Doodling and Beyond or even simpler, The Doodling Formula.

Whatever you do, don’t overdo it. I know it’s hard for some of us, but this is a chance to play.

24 Apr

Way Better Than An Etch-a-Sketch

Paper by 53 | DebzWeb.com


This drawing may not look like much, but I find it absolutely amazing.

The thing is, I created it on my iPad, using my new favorite app, Paper by 53. Then I emailed it to myself and here it is. Magic!

In case you’re interested, the free version includes one pen, with four others sitting next to it, inert. So if you’re a craft supply addict like me, you have to buy the rest (at $8, worth it to me).

Paper by 53 | DebzWeb.com

I made the second image to give you an idea of all the things you can do with Paper.

By the way, you can use your fingers, but I used a stylus. The line changes with the pressure you put on it, and the color deepens when you go over it.

What I’m trying to say is, Paper is a really good toy, much better than the Etch-a-Sketch I used to love.

20 Apr

The Time of My Life

Joyful Pages | DebzWeb.com
I never thought I’d be this happy. After all the dark days and years, I didn’t expect to see the light shine so bright again. But here I am, content, peaceful, and very, very grateful.

Believe me: I have stacks of depressed, confused, angry journals. Pages and pages chronicling my family’s struggles with mental illness and addiction. Whole books full of self-doubt, self-pity, and anguish.

So it’s with real amazement I look at joyful pages like these.

Joyful Pages | DebzWeb.com


There’s a Jewish prayer for special times, a prayer that’s just right for this moment.

In Hebrew it sounds like this: Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam Shehehchiyahnu vekiyamanu vehegianu lazman ha-zeh.

Roughly translated, it means, Thank you G-d, for keeping us alive, sustaining us, and enabling us to reach this season.

All I can say is, Amen.

17 Apr

Paper Napkins As An Art Form

Paper Napkins As An Art Form | DebzWeb.com


I wasn’t always a paper napkin addict. But I have been ever since taking an altered book class with Carol Owen.

Carol showed us how to use napkins as a background for altered books, collages or journals. You separate the napkins into layers (usually 3, sometimes 2), then cut and paste them to create interesting backgrounds. The cool thing is that if there is already something on the page it will show through.


On this spread, I used the top and middle layers of a zebra-stripe napkin.

The contrast in the pattern had always seemed too harsh for me, but when I turned it over, I got a nice charcoal gray. The middle layer (shown on the right) was even softer. And both provided a great backdrop for contour lettering (one of my current passions).

Looking at it now it strikes me funny. I’m a writer at heart and really care about the content – and this spread is all about form. The words are simply placeholders, describing the process of making this.

By the way, see the one darker line on the left? That’s cut from the right side of the napkin to cover up a mess I made there.

As Salvador Dali put it, “Nearly all mistakes are of a sacred nature.” I know what he meant.

Paper Napkins As An Art Form | DebzWeb.com

Some favorites from my napkin stash. Most are from Tuesday Morning, the rest from Target and kind friends.

14 Apr

He Made Me Love Him

Kampster the Cat | DebzWeb.com

How could you not love that face?


I never expected to have a cat, let alone love one. But Kampster, the cat Samantha rescued, had other ideas. When she was away, he made a concerted effort to win my heart.

I did not want to love this cat. He was making life miserable for Tiger, the cat we already had, and our family certainly didn’t need any more misery.

Kampster’s campaign began with usurping Tiger’s place on our bed. He staked out his territory in the evening – a little earlier every day, just to make sure.

Next, he started following me around. (To be honest, I didn’t even notice till Lynda pointed it out.) When I was at my desk, he was on top of all my papers. When I was reading on the couch, he was at my feet. And when I was knitting – well, it was pretty much impossible.

The final step was licking my hand. I didn’t know cats did that, since the only cat I’d lived with had never thought of such a thing. I felt the love, and I’m a fool for love.

“He really worked hard at it,” Sam said. And unlike certain men in my past, he still loved me after I fell for him.

11 Apr

A “Fixer-Upper” Journal Page

A "Fixer-Upper" Journal Page | DebzWeb.comThis page and I have been through a lot together. First, I spent some time carefully lettering a quote. Then I added some color. The result was really ugly – hideous, actually.  I thought about ripping it out and moving on. But the art journalers I admire have a rule about not tearing anything out, and I decided to try it their way this time.

Here’s what I did:

1. Painted over the offending page with gesso. Gesso is a handy primer that can be used to strengthen a page and cover up most things.

2. Sifted through a basket of images I’ve clipped from magazines. The first thing that caught my eye was the hand holding the cup. Rummaging around, I discovered other hand images I liked.

3. Cut around the images and pasted them down.

4. Outlined the shapes with a Marvy LaPlume brush pen (fine tip). Outlined the outlines. Filled them in some more.

5. Decided to stop before I messed it up again.

The result is a lot better than what’s underneath it, and I get to remain true to one of my mantras this year: Celebrate Imperfection.

09 Apr

Getting Past the Blank Page

Some days the blank page is just daunting. It’s enough to make you close your book and wait til tomorrow. Or the day after. Or never.

One way around it is to make a grid, dividing the page into smaller, more manageable chunks.

Content Ideas Grid | DebzWeb.com

The day I made this, for example, my brain was in hyper drive.

There were so many things I wanted to do, I didn’t know where to start.

This format helped me make some sense out of the chaos. I put one idea in each box, and when I saw what I said, I knew what was most important to me: creating a blog.

That was the day I started DebzWeb.

What about you?

What’s rolling around in the back of your brain?

When are you going to let it out?

How about now?