Extract from my journal from over 5 years ago, when I was starting therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD):
"I won a positivity award at work…Seems ironic as feeling so negative internally about it.
Might paint Snowball – a longhaired fluffy white cat…with purplish eyes…a book cover for Pet Purpose? What is her hope?"
I was still working on the manuscript for my semiautobiographical novel at the time I wrote that journal entry.
I made reference to the Snowball painting in the extract from Pet Purpose: Your Unspoken Voice, below. I reveal what she means in the story, which is about a character trying to resolve grief and trauma. I gave the character the same main diagnoses as myself (bipolar disorder and PTSD).
I'm sharing a few extracts that stand out to me, as I am burning the journals. I've already burned a few dozen journals and have a few dozen more to go. Journalling helps me to sort out the thousands of things in my mind. Painting does too but in a more meditative way. I lock my journals away, so I feel safer to express what I need to express.
Painting does that too, only I can paint stories in disguise. Still express mood, yet feel safer (other than risk criticism and judgement as not everyone will like one's art).
I went to a group art exhibition yesterday. Have been invited to take part in future exhibitions. I might do that, as don't have to enter many pieces. I actually have a canvas sitting on my desk this past week to start a painting of an idea. I didn't feel very creative at the time (after Dad died last month) but I thought it might be a nice way to process. It's for a community art exhibition.
Even before Dad died, I'd started putting things in order, thinking about the legacy I want to leave (including my books).
Expression to Advocacy to creative expression
Last night, I made a decision that I wouldn't renew the domain name, bipolarcourage.com; which apparently has an estimated value of over US$1000. I pay way less than that on renewal fees but I'm on a low income and if I'm not really using something, I consider letting it go. I've done this with many websites on my journey. Bipolarcourage.com will expire in 2025.
I've added a registered trademark for Soar Purpose®. The registered trademark for Bipolar Courage should come through within a week. I think it's a good idea to trademark one's 'brand', even if it's not a business. (Especially after spending hundreds of hours into it). I will leave the social media up for now.
I'll give a simplified breakdown of my fifteen-year journey from creative expression to advocacy to creative expression.
I won a major prize in an Australiasian writing competition about mental health in 2008. This led to writing blogs under a pen name, Xanthe Wyse (which later became my legal name). From the blogging community, I learned how to build basic websites. I built a website focussed on Asperger's Syndrome (my son's childhood diagnosis).
Then, from skills I learned from the blogging community, plus mentoring from other pet sitters, I set up a pet sitting business from scratch. That business started on a shoestring budget won a business award (voted by clients then evaluated by business assessors). I am not naming the business, which I trademarked, even though it's since been shut down by the person I sold it to. I gave the new owner the website & logo I designed as part of the business.
I built a basic website for an advocacy group I founded but am no longer part of. I founded the Facebook page which has over 50,000 likes (ironically, I was banned from the page I founded). It went onto influence both the New Zealand and Australian governments to make a major reform.
I legally changed my name & deleted old blogs.
I started a website, Spinning Orbit. The name was inspired by my father's saw, when he built me some drawers, plus how my mind felt, struggling with my disabilities. Spinning Orbit was the name of my first solo art as therapy exhibition, a ridiculous goal, for a sense of purpose.
One of the original process paintings, Spinning Orbit was painted without a paintbrush. I also signed xwyz (after w-x-y-z split up for the first), then xyz (ex-wise) then finally X.Wyse.
After the exhibition, I wanted to focus on my book Pet Purpose, so I started a website Pet Purpose and ditched Spinning Orbit (as I felt it wasn't needed anymore after the exhibition).
I also did a little pet sitting as Pet Purpose but I decided not to continue, as I often couldn't drive because of my disabilities. Also, I wasn't coping with stress.
Each time, I ditched an old website. I could see ahead but only a little, as I was carrying so much burden with the grief and trauma from my past. Every time, I would pour my all into the current project. Under Pet Purpose, I did something I never imagined I would do - speak on video on social media. It started because of my interest in pets, and at the time, dog training.
During some more setbacks with my mental health (depression episode) which made it hard to focus on writing my book, I decided to start a blog Bipolar Courage. I decided to take the plunge and start a vlog as well. This was unique, as I gave my clinicians perspective from the outside plus my perspective from the inside. My diagnoses were still visible, despite medications and therapy.
I decided to have another solo art as therapy exhibition, called Speak. The name of the exhibition was inspired by the painting below. A visual mind-map. I intend to explain what the painting means in my novel, Soar Purpose (hint: processing trauma).
I received a community arts grant each exhibition to help with exhibition fees and art materials. This was essential, as I am on a low income and artists aren't guaranteed to sell art. I did however sell art at both exhibitions (bought my camera from the proceeds from the first).
When I was feeling burnt out with advocating as Bipolar Courage, I relaunched as Soar Purpose (this website and associated social media after doing a painting called Soar Purpose). After I decided to do a sequel for Pet Purpose: Your Unspoken Voice, I rewrote the ending about 5 times. My goal is to complete a novel, Soar Purpose, then I think I will be done with using my own story as inspiration for writing. I expect it will take me a few years.
Soar Purpose is my hub for creative expression, which is essential for my wellbeing. It's a passionate hobby but I have set it up with potential to become a part-time business (although I am very prone to burnout).
Going off on a tangent, I wrote a memoir, Bipolar Courage: Are You Sure You're Not Autistic? (published last month). I will be doing a free giveway soon, so 'keep your eyes peeled' (one of Dad's sayings).
The solo art exhibitions were also going off on tangents.
Since my exhibitions (no plans to do further solo exhibitions), I've taken part in community group art exhibitions, entering sculptures I made from repurposed materials. Even though sculptures isn't my forte. It was quite emotional when I sold a piece, a flamboyant bumble bee, Wingin' It.
So where to next?
All sorts of possibilities but I have trademarked Soar Purpose under 'class 41: Education, Entertainment, Sports' (with focus on writing books and painting with art tuition).
Something I learned before getting my first trademark is that someone else can prevent you from using it, if they trademark first. Even if you used the name first. Trademarking is inexpensive in New Zealand and I think a worthwhile investment to have some legal protections with hundreds of hours of effort. Unfortunately, others do rip off other's efforts.
Soar Purpose® is my soar purpose. I will explain more in the books. Currently, I am writing blog posts to share my insights plus something to look back on. I don't intend on deleting Soar Purpose®: it's the banner for my published books, art etc. I share some improvised snippets on my social media (links in footer of this website). I limit what social media I use, as otherwise, it's too time consuming.
So why seeming to be so 'inefficient' going through so many domain names (all with mostly separate social media followings?) Well, I do have vision but I was still processing a lot. Also, I was choosing names to reflect what big projects I was going. To put my focus into, rather than being too scattered. For example, Bipolar Courage was years of effort, all unpaid.
There's an old cliche that the journey is more important than the destination. Well, I think there's some truth in that, although I think it helps to be moving in a general direction with meaning (what I call purpose).
It's been a fifteen-year journey of advocacy that started with creative expression, which I would always come back to. Creative expression is my Soar Purpose®. If I can inspire others too along the way, then that's a bonus. There is a possibility that I could earn an income but it's not my main focus, as it's very hard to make consistent money from the arts.
I met someone at the art exhibition who has just moved to town and hardly knows anyone. Is keen to learn to paint. I have offered to do an introduction with my art materials to get started with learning to improvise painting.
I have some ideas to share my knowledge but I will need to sit on it for a while, to figure out what would work best for me.
In the meantime, I have my book to work on plus a painting to do for the group community art exhibition. I also have a little idea for painting from an offcut of wood from Dad's workshop (a carpentry saw within a saw or something like that - ideas evolve).
Wingin' It sculpture
Wingin' It was made from repurposed materials, including a broken umbrella, curtain wire, plumbing parts, a broken measuring tape and further repurposed materials (the fabric and features were repurposed in previous sculptures).
Disclaimer: the author of this blog is not an expert by profession and her opinions should not be taken as expert advice.