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In about 4 months' time, it would be my 4th year volunteering at Safe Place. Safe Place is an organisation that empowers women and families with unsupported pregnancies to make life-giving choices. Although I go there only once a month, sometimes I would see some of the ladies there for about a year. It's a strange bittersweet feeling when I see them. I feel happy knowing that they are safe and I get to facilitate art activities for them, but at the same time, my heart aches for them because after all, it's not a 'home'.

flower to the heart safe place

Whenever I meet someone new at Safe Place, I always explain why I'm there. The main inspiration of why I go there every month: Making art helped me to cope with being a first-time mum, it is a form of rest while struggling with the mental and physical demands of motherhood and also a form of healing through 2 miscarriages. And I emphasise that my art sessions are not art classes, there is no right or wrong and there is no fear of making messes or messing up.

expressive art safe place

Making the Process Visible

Of course, there is always some resistance at the beginning but that is perfectly normal. Not everyone uses the paintbrush regularly and not everyone likes making mistakes. But I always wait for them to be ready and encourage them throughout the process. When it comes to art making, there is always a natural tendency to comment only about the outcome but I am mindful of making the process visible to everyone at the table, such as "It's really good progress that you made the first mark on the paper, and I know the next few marks will come to you gradually."

We go through art activities that use our five senses, we take time to explore and experiment and then we share our thoughts on the process. Sometimes when the ladies are comfortable enough, they also talk about their reflections on their lives and motherhood. I believe that the art making itself is a therapeutic process, not every activity has to end with a deep reflection, not every meaningful experience can be translated into words.

salt art jar safe place

I know the ladies always appreciate my time there with them even though they don't tell me. But one day I received a message from the volunteer manager and she said,

"The girls told us that they enjoyed your art sessions a lot and asked if they can have more of your visits. In other words, they appreciate your time with them."

My hope for these mothers is that they would remember my art sessions and in their own free time or when they return home, they know they can make art for joy, make art for rest and make art for healing - making art would be a part of their everyday life.

If you would like to support the work that I do, you can either buy a product from my shop or buy me a cup of kofi.

4th year running and not a single dull moment at our Holiday Kids Process Art Workshop for the kindergarten two classes at TOUCH Childcare Hougang and TOUCH Childcare Clementi. A BIG THANK YOU to these schools for believing in the work that I do and partnering me to care for the children's mental wellbeing.

Self-Awareness and Emotions

It's always a joy to see how the children develop self-awareness through "The Apple Tree Story", talking about their strengths, limitations in the light of knowing that they are still growing and learning. And through listening to the story "I Hear You", conversations about emotions are also opened up so that children learn how to identify and name their emotions, and then tell a trusted caregiver how they feel.

apple tree 2023

i hear you 2023

Same learning, same tools and materials given but all unique artworks accompanied with wonderful sharing and reflection.

CONTACT Rebecca at if you're interested in having creative art programmes that develop social-emotional learning skills at your school or organisation.

Parents and friends like to ask me this question, "So what do you do with all the artwork that you and your kids make?" These are 3 things I do with them:

  1. Take photos of the artwork and then throw them away

  2. Keep the really precious ones

  3. Turn them into something else

Decluttering is a never-ending process in my home and I keep my 'turn the artwork into something else' pile in a box. Anything that doesn't fit into that box, goes into the trash bin/recycling bin. But I've recently discovered that not all kinds of paper can be recycled, especially paper that have been doodled on with crayons!

Then I saw other creatives on social media extending the lifespan of those scrap pieces of paper, artworks, packaging, magazine paper, wrapping paper, etc. - making them into journals and since they are made out of trash, they are called "JUNK JOURNALS". I love the idea because it means I don't need to buy new books anymore to journal. And since it's made out of junk, it might be easier to let them go when it's time to declutter.

Blank Page Anxiety

Perhaps journalling is something you've always wanted to do but you have been procrastinating for a long time because whenever you look at the blank page, you don't know what to write or draw. You've also already bought all the expensive fancy materials and equipment but there is so much fear of making mistakes that you can't bring yourself to even make a mark on the page.

Then put aside that perfect looking journal, and create a junk journal. There is no pressure and there are no expectations to create something perfect. You are free to create: write or draw anything that comes to your mind.

Starting Your Junk Journal

So far I've made 5 junk journals: 2 for myself and 3 for my kids. Here are some ways to start a JUNK JOURNAL of your own!

  1. Gather about 7 to 10 pieces of paper. I recommend starting a small journal first so there is less stress to fill it up.

  2. Sew the pages together with a simple stitch. You can also staple them together.

putting your junk journal together

3. To get motivated, start designing your cover page and make your junk journal uniquely yours

junk journal cover page

4. Here are some journal prompts and ideas to inspire your journalling journey. From top left to bottom right:

a) Write song lyrics that you've listened to.

b) Use markers to write daily reminders. c) Write interesting quotes from books.

d) Draw a mirror reflection of the other side of the artwork.

e) Use colour pencils to colour in the page.

f) Make a sticker collage of a place that you visited. My kids and I brought our junk journals along to Cameron Highlands and did a simple entry there.

g) Cut out a heart (or other interesting shapes) from a page.

h) Research on one thing you've always been curious about and write it down. For me, I've taken a liking to drinking tea and wanted to find out the optimum amount of water and time to soak the tea leaves.

i) Tear scrap paper (try not to use the scissors) and paste them to create a collage.

5. Take your time to journal with creative freedom. Although it was just a few pages, I took about 3 months to complete it because I didn't want to rush through. Now I just started on my second junk journal and have only done the cover page and 1 entry so far but it's okay, it is a not a race to finish fast but an outlet to express myself.

Too much junk paper lying around in your home? How about make some junk journals for your friends or your children as well and get started on journalling together!

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