Thursday 20th January 2022

Mindful Art Helps To Heal Me. 91/2020.

Mindful Art Helps To Heal Me. 91/2020.

Since way before my cancer diagnosis in May 2017, I used art – my generic term for all things visually & kinaesthetically creative – as a distraction and mindful way to help me focus on ‘just one thing’ and to reduce levels of anxiety and stress. I have written quite a few posts about this and some can be found here.

What I have been doing lately.

I always have a few different sizes in art/display books to work on. I tend to use different sizes for mandalas, patterns and for drawing. However, this is no rule to this. I like a variety of choices.

Choices in books, materials and media. The following three photos are from my post-2017 recovery from surgery times.

And now here’s more: Self-Care is first.

This from a small book I carry with me right now about Kindness. I read and reflect on its words when I have my solo coffee time.

Why Art?

For me, it’s tactile and as a visually-oriented person it appeals greatly and I can get lost in it. That is my version of calming down and becoming mindful. In fact, when I may be waiting on news – health or otherwise- I will often make up something very intricate to work with, and leave it on my art desk to return to over and over. It sure does focus me on JUST ONE THING.

Some examples here of projects which have helped me focus and in doing so I have been taken away from the worries and fears and into this world that helps keep me on a greater emotional even keel.

Update of what it’s been like for the past year or so.


  • In recent years I have tried to emulate others’ works by using their materials such as stamps and stencils and cut out figures.
  • What I found is that this kind of trying to be like another’s work was both frustrating and limiting.
  • I found some of the physical materials: paints, stamps and more very expensive to buy and then not using them as I had hoped.
  • I admit stamping is not my forte. In some ways I can stamp but not in the complicated ways of specialists.
  • There are some creatives too who only enjoy seeing their work reflected back to them.
  • I learned I am not that kind of artist. In fact, I gave some of my items away and stopped following those pages.
  • I know I enjoy the annual Index Card a Day Challenge from the US. It’s for 61 days of June and July. Here are this year’s completed cards.

Grateful for art and creativity


What might I be planning now?

  • I admit that whilst I love going back to enjoy some of the more familiar art activities like mandalas and patterns, I still need a challenge or two.
  • I learned above that my skills lie in other fields.
  • I know I am far more tactile than I realised but I also do not like messes on my hands. Mmmmm.
  • This for me then means cutting out and using glue sticks. I don’t like getting paint on my hands. Maybe too it’s because of where I have my art activities and this house is not ours. Nevertheless it’s good to know my limitations.
  • In my recent clear up and clean out of my art area I found many more blank books of differing sizes and this is exciting as our budget is limited. Actually it probably was limited when I bought these. Yikes.
  • Quality of materials means I do not get frustrated with what I am working with so I have, ahem, spent a lot of money over the past 18 months and I am well-stashed!!

Working with words and more.

  • I enjoy finding quotes that appeal to me and printing them to use in a page
  • I am very fortunate that most days the Daily Calm quote from my daily morning meditation has a great quotation I believe in and learn from so am saving them as photos for future use.
  • I have a series of small books like these below. They are the idea size for me to take in my little art kit and re-read and reflect.
  • I have bought most via book depository (free postage) but they may also be in smaller bookstores.

These books are really helpful.

About the healing part.

Whilst my cancer recovery has been excellent, I have also had several surgeries both minor and major in 2020. In times of needing to be at home…much more in COVID times of course, and to remain physically rested, then to distract myself from any feelings of deprivation (coffee, driving, getting out!) I used (and use) my art space.

From what I know of my physical recoveries which have been for the main part, excellent, I know that my emotional and mental outlook play a great role too.

Coming to my space for art and play is a way of winding back from many thoughts and just focussing on what is in front of me. This strategy has helped me more than I ever might have thought.

Since 6 October I have been released from all of my treatments and that I mean, no more regular visits to the GP for dressing changes and wound care from the second abdominal surgery. My prosthodontist saw me briefly when I had some mouth pain recently but he doesn’t want to to come back till around May 2021 and my head and neck surgeon said ” see you in September 2021″.

THAT is an awesome feeling...and in its own way sets me a new challenge.

How to enjoy myself even more creatively!

What do you do to help you heal?

Do you have any creative outlets?


Joining with Leanne and friends here for Lovin Life Linky.






  1. You are so creative Denyse, and I love reading about what you’ve been up to to help you cope. I love collecting little books of quotes too and sharing quotes is a great passion of mine.

    • Ah thank you Deb. You are a kind friend. My art (back in 2015-pre cancer diagnosis 2017) saved me from heartache a LOT. Made a year of mandalas in 2016. Many were gifted to others after I laminated them. Many patterns and designs (hundreds) in 2018 became bookmarks for The Big Hug box.

      I am happy now, just to enjoy the process rather than be product driven. However, I still like to finish things too. I have A5 journals to A3 journals on the go and fortunately the space in which to enjoy what I do. I am now much better supplied with quality media than ever and that makes a difference.

      As long as a quote suits me (or another) I will share it. The little books with stories and information are so good and are very user friendly too.

      I am so pleased you enjoy this past time as well.


  2. Wow. You are so busy! I had no idea. And congrats on the discharge (of sorts!) That is BIG news

    • Thanks Lydia, it might be ‘busy’ but none of it is pressured aka work.

      I love being able to choose what I do each day.

      Being well…from this most recent issue …is amazing.

      I did not know how much have a rectal prolapse had affected my day to day life.

      I am all GOOD! Feel so well. About to go for a coffee and a browse at local shops.


  3. Wow, it’s great to not have to follow up for a year Denyse.

    And I love that you get so much joy out of your art! And those colours!!! I’m not very artistic – visually…. at all so admire those who are!

    • Thanks Deb. Art has saved me over and over!! I even took a book of some mandala outlines into hospital for that big surgery back in 2017 and whilst I was not as competent as I may have been (getting over the surgery!) it was a huge distraction.

      Yes, amazing news from my Head and Neck surgeon but I said “oh I will miss catching up!”. He actually invited me to be on a table at a surgical event – dinner and award thingy – in 2 weeks but it’s Sydney, a Friday night and I really “can’t eat much” socially but it was lovely to be asked.


  4. Denyse, your artworks are so inspirational and my goodness I have art desk envy! This is what I lack and what holds me back from doing more art. My study where my computer is, is very dark and has limited space and just doesn’t feel right for my watercolour painting. I need a better set up but I don’t know where. Anyway I’m so glad that creativity helps you, as it does me, to calm the mind and easy anxiety and stress – in other words to be mindful and focussed. You’re also really good at it too! xo

    • Dear Min,

      Here are my rules for having an art/craft space:

      1. Once an adult child moves out, that becomes YOUR space. You leave a bed if necessary but make it yours. This is exactly what I did way back.

      2. I also have used a variety of fold up and out tables for my art over the years and worked on an outdoor type table for a while too.

      3. It must be a place where you can leave whatever you are working on out and be able to come back to it.

      4. As I have aged, I need to make sure I have plenty of light – so have a table lamp on the space.

      5. Buy some containers and things which suit you needs and go for it.

      I hope you can find a space to call your own. This furniture now is from when we had two large home offices so, yes, very fortunate but we renting a 4 bedroom house and there’s only 2 of us.

      Glad you are knowing the benefits of all that is creative.


  5. Hi Denyse – I find colouring in to be extremely good for my mindfulness, I also use the time to listen to podcasts as the words can flow over me as I colour. Last week for my birthday I was given some lovely new soft, creamy coloured pencils and an amazing battery operated eraser – I LOVE it! Using the new colours and starting on a new Johanna Basford colouring book has been a real joy for me.

    • Happy Birthday Leanne !

      I usually wish people who are FB friends a happy birthday there but feel I may have missed yours.

      That sounds awesome to have such good and quality new materials.

      Yes, soft colouring pencils are so good on the hands too. I have a better pencil sharpener now too.

      I admit I am tending to colour my own work in again now. Joanna’s books are here and now it’s almost Christmas again and I have that book. I got all my Basford books spiral bound at Office works and it makes such difference to using them. Very reasonable costs too.

      I also make colouring and drawing a time to listen to podcasts. Mostly in the evenings too.


  6. You are so talented, Denyse. I had no idea! The Index Card project sounds cool. I am going to have to watch for it next summer. I love making designs on index cards. I sometimes make them into postcards, then send them to friends and family.

    • Oh that is so good to know Laurie! The community is many people from around the world but most from USA. The person who started it, Tammy Garcia, blogs and posts at I think. This is the right link. Its fun and started me on a more creative and brave journey with art back in 2013.

      Yay for connections like this!


  7. I love how you describe art giving you the ability to “get lost in it”. I remember that as a kid.

    • That my friend is called ‘flow’ and ‘being in the moment’. I am so pleased you remembered that from being a kid. How about coming back to art like this and seeing how it helps with grounding and staying in one place (mentally)…I know it does for me.