Creativity, Self Empowerment

Journal prompt: Don’t censor your dreams

The good thing about journaling over a long period of time is that you can look back and see how much you have changed and grown.

Today I was reading some journals I wrote around the time I was finishing high school. I had just been overseas to the USA and France for the first time and I was inspired about the possibilities for the future. I mentioned how much I would love to study film at the Tisch School of Arts.

And then, a line or so later I declared I couldn’t afforddont-censor-your-dreams it, and would have to stay and study in New Zealand, even though that wasn’t what I wanted.

In truth, I probably couldn’t afford it. But what if I had found a way? What if I had wanted it enough and dreamed so big that I made it happen? I could have borrowed money, worked for a year to save – done any number of things to make it happen.

But I just didn’t believe it was possible.

I can’t help but wonder what my life would look like right now if I had done it. Don’t get me wrong – I’m ok with where I am in my life, but I am acutely aware that the dissatisfaction I do feel is the result of short-changing myself – of censoring my dreams to make them more ‘acceptable’ and ‘realistic’.

When I look back on past journals I see big dreams – of becoming a scriptwriter and director, an author and a singer. I wrote about how much I wanted to move to New York to pursue my dreams.

Sure, I was a teenager, full of optimism and hope. It was ok to dream big back then because ‘the future’ was still far-off and existed only in my head.

The reality is that I didn’t have the courage to pursue these things. I didn’t believe, at my core, that I could really have them – so I settled.

I’ve mentioned before that I am currently planning a business with a friend. As part of the Right Brain Business Plan, we had to imagine our business as wildly successful, and describe what that would look like. We were both hesitant to say anything too ‘unrealistic’ – so we stated ‘realistic’ salaries, working hours, locations, etc.

dream-bigWhy did we do that? We are starting from scratch. We can have anything, build anything. Surely if we dream small we will only make something small?

Perhaps it is to do with disappointment – if we dream small then we can’t be disappointed. And if others hear of our plans, they won’t scoff or laugh or warn us that we aren’t being ‘realistic’. Nelson Mandela famously said:

There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.

Once I realised we were holding ourselves back, I said to my friend: let’s dream big. This is our business, our passion, our one chance to leave our mark on the world. Who cares what people will say, or if we end up disappointed. We have to risk it to achieve big. I am sick of playing small, of censoring my dreams. She agreed.

A part of me wishes I could go back to the young me and say: Be bold! Dream big!

But I needed to go down the path I have to learn what I know now. The only thing I can do now is to move forward boldly. To dream big.

>>> Prompts:

What were your biggest dreams as a child/teenager? You may like to look back through old journals/yearbooks etc to remind yourself.

Have you achieved those dreams, or are you in the process of doing that? If not, why not?

Can you think of what may have stopped you from moving towards them – perhaps a parent’s wishes, the words of a teacher, worrying about what your friends were doing, etc?

What is it that you really really really want now? Get really quiet and listen. Try free writing about this for a few minutes and see what comes up.

Do you feel any sort of resistance or words of warning about dreaming too big from your inner critic? If so, you could try writing a letter to your inner critic in your journal – thank them for their concern about you, but declare that you don’t need them to worry and state boldly and clearly what it is you want.

How can you start to move towards what it is that you really want?

Creativity

Journal prompt: This time next year

I’m a dreamer. I love thinking ahead, imagining the wonderful things Ithis time next year can create in my life.Although I struggle with doubt at times, I know that by always working towards my dreams they will come to fruition.

That’s why I loved this week’s prompt – a chance to think a whole year ahead and ponder the possibilities.

A year is both a really long time and a very short time. What seems like it’s way in the future right now, will feel like it raced around soon.

In fact, thinking of it as a year may seem like it’s not long enough to bring your big dreams to life. But if you think of it as 365 days to consciously take action – then it becomes clear that a lot can happen in this time.

So take a page in your journal to dream big. Head it up with this title: This Time Next Year.

Consider, what do you dream or hope for by this time next year? What will you have achieved, and what will you be on your way to achieving? If you were sitting in the same spot writing in your journal a year from now, how do you hope to have grown/healed/expanded/succeeded/rested/loved/changed etc?

You could also use this prompt for some visioning – create a journal page covered in images that inspire you, that represent this time next year for you.

Let your mind wander and trust that whatever you dream of is for your highest good – a wee note to the universe to help you along with these dreams of yours.

Creativity

Creativity: Why I’m going it alone

If you’ve been following this blog for some time, you will have noticed the changes around here.

It started out as just me, a blogging newbie and journaling enthusiast, then Kelly came on board, and if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve noticed that it’s back to little old me – still a journaling enthusiast, but with a little more blogging experience under my belt.

So what’s been going on? Why all the changes?

It’s been about a year since I first waded into the world of creativity in earnest. It started with an innocent journaling course, then I found myself falling headfirst in love with everything to do with journaling, art journaling and any and all aspects of creativity.

I found that these things perfectly complemented my training in life coaching, psychology and teaching.

I’d always wanted to blog, and had attempted it several times, but this time it stuck. Why?

Because I finally found a topic I’m so in love with that
I just all you need is love and journalingcan’t help but talk to everyone about it.

My bestie Kelly was also in love with the same things, and she also wrote a blog, so we started to plan ways we could share our passion. It made sense to write a blog together, to create a community online around the things we both love.

So she came on board here with me. We both started blogging about the things we loved: creativity, self-love, self-care and journaling.

But things started to change, for both of us. Instead of being inspired by each other, we started to feel stuck. We couldn’t figure out why, so we just kept going.

I started wondering where the magic had gone.

What happened to that feeling of wanting to share any and everything I love about journaling and creativity? Why was I suddenly feeling uninspired and stuck?

It turns out, our creative dreams can be a very personal thing.

Despite the fact that we both loved journaling and blogging, what we didn’t love was sharing one online space together. We felt as though we were cramping each other’s style – unknowingly, and unintentionally, putting creative limits on one another.

I missed the freedom to just be myself, to follow my own creative whims and share my strange imperfections.

I realized that if I am to evolve creatively and truly follow my own deeply personal creative path, I need to go it alone.

This can be scary, and there was something so reassuring about having Kel right by my side. She was there to bounce ideas off, to brainstorm with, to laugh over endless cups of tea as we dreamed big creative dreams together.

Since we’ve gone our separate creative ways, I really miss those moments.

I believeBut even more rewarding is the sense of building something all by myself: fueling my own creative fire and lighting my own path.

I think we certainly need others out on the creative path – people to reassure us when times are tough, to tell us that they too struggle, to share ideas and inspiration, to cheer us on when we doubt ourselves.

Ultimately though, I think creativity is a solo expedition: an excavation of our own inner selves – our fears, our dreams, our lives.

While support from others is certainly valuable and I would say even necessary, ultimately it’s up to you to venture within.

So, Journal Wild is back to just me. What started as Journaling Dangerously, an experiment in journaling more often, has become Journal Wild, a full-blown commitment to a creatively nourishing life.

I’ve got my inner creative fire to light the path ahead and I’m going it alone.

Creativity

Journal prompt: What’s stopping you?

whats stopping you

This week’s prompt is inspired by something I casually wrote into my journal, without giving it much thought.

And then, I began to wonder… what is stopping me? Because it certainly wasn’t nothing.

On closer inspection, I realised that fear, being too busy, being overly tired and keeping myself distracted were a few of the answers.

So I encourage you to answer this prompt in either your written journal, or represent it visually: What’s stopping you?

 

Creativity

Journal prompt: Goodbye 2014, hello new year!

I love this time of year. It always feels like a chance to reflect on the year that’s been and get excited about the year to come.

It feels like a fresh start, a clean slate, a do-over. It feels full of possibility.

But the only real way to get the most out of a new year is to make peace with the year that’s been, then set some clear intentions for the year ahead. If you don’t let go of what’s been, you may drag it into the new year with you.

i am so blessed

I cherish this time of year as a chance to spend extra time with my journal; reflecting, dreaming and planning.

For me, this has been a tremendous year, personally. I’ve started a blog and welcomed my soul sister Kelly on board, I’ve created a regular journaling and creative practice that lights me up, I’ve gotten engaged to the man of my dreams and he and I have begun a journey to build our own little house. I couldn’t be happier with these things.

Professionally, this year has been challenging for me. I’ve been working full-time in a teaching job that I find stressful and, at times, overwhelming. While it certainly has its rewarding and enjoyable moments, as a highly-sensitive person and introvert, it is harder for me than many. Perhaps not the ideal career choice, I now realise after getting to know myself a bit better through my journal. Nonetheless, I made it through the year in one piece.

Our school years run from the start to end of the calendar year in New Zealand, so I am currently in between jobs, deciding upon my next move for next year. Instead of being fearful about this, I’m excited for what could be ahead.

So now, I’m going to take out my journal and explore the year that’s been and the possibilities that lie ahead of me.

>>> Prompt:

Take a fresh page in your journal and create a heading: Goodbye 2014, welcome new year! (Or whatever floats your boat).

Begin by answering some of these questions, and if something stands out to you, go as deep as you like:

  • How would you describe 2014 in one sentence?
  • If you could redo 2014, what would you do differently? Why?
  • List three things that went well for you this year.
  • List three things that did not go well for you this year.
  • What was the absolute highlight of 2014?
  • What was your lowest point?
  • If 2014 was a book, what would be the title? Come up with a few chapter names.
  • Draw a timeline of the year from start to finish with all of your achievements and greatest joys.
  • What was the predominant feeling for you in 2014?

Now, think about the year ahead:

hello 2015

  • If you were writing this at the end of 2015, how would you ideally like to be able to describe the year in one sentence?
  • If 2015 could be a book, what would you like it to be titled? Come up with a few possible chapter names.
  • What do you hope to achieve/do/complete/have happen next year?
  • What will you absolutely make happen, without a doubt?
  • How would you most like to predominantly feel, next year?
  • Create an art journal page or collage that best represents how you would like 2015 to be.
  • Choose one word to guide you through the next 12 months. The word I have chosen for 2015 is focus. Kelly’s word is joy. Choose whatever word most sings to you. If you’re a bit stumped, visit Susannah Conway for guidance on this. Once you’ve chosen your word, write it in big bold letters and put it somewhere you will see it every day.

Most importantly, be kind and gentle with yourself while you go through this process. If this hasn’t been the best year for you, try your best to acknowledge that and then look forward to the new year. It’s a new beginning for us all.

What Inspires Me

Hope street

Today I went for a walk with a friend. We were talking about the creative business we will soon be launching, our biggest dreams and hopes for the future.

We were talking about where we want to be this time next year; what changes we want to make over the next 12 months to make our dreams come true.

We dared to imagine what our lives could look like if our business plans came true.

I explained the changes I was making in my own work life – some of which have taken courage and are scary. But I’ve been trusting my intuition to lead me. I’ve been letting my inner wisdom guide me.

As we walked, a beautiful monarch butterfly caught my eye, dancing through the early evening sun’s rays.

Every time I see one of these butterflies I think of Wayne Dyer and the amazing story from his book Inspiration. He believes that butterflies are a sign from the divine. I love this. Each time I see one, I take it as a sign from the divine that I am on the right path.

It was perhaps a coincidence that I saw the butterfly as we spoke about this. But I prefer to see it as a sign.

And then, I saw a literal sign – for a street:

Hope Street.

Again, a possible coincidence. In truth, I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe in synchronicity. Meaningful coincidence.

There is no coincidence. Only the illusion of coincidence – V for Vendetta

And I didn’t even want to go walking, really. But by keeping my eyes and my heart open as we walked, I found myself receiving tiny messages from the universe. Tiny nods to keep going.

Creativity

Journal prompt: Theme word

I want to share a journal prompt that I think is really neat. It’s easy and can be completed in as little as 5 minutes, but it spans a week (or longer, if you like).

I found this prompt in Kathleen Adams’ Journal to the Self.

>>> Prompt:

Pick a ‘theme word’ for a week, or longer if you prefer. Susannah Conway chooses a theme word to guide her through each year, which I think is a really cool idea.

For this prompt, you are going to journal each day for 5-15 minutes about how you experienced your theme word that day. If you were to choose a guiding word for the year, you may journal each week, or check in each month.

focus-on-happiness

My word for this week is happiness, to get me focusing on the little things that bring me joy as I head back into work.

Some other examples of theme words are:

  • Calm
  • Passion
  • Change
  • Loneliness
  • Confusion
  • Love
  • Patience
  • Faith
  • Gratitude
  • Anger
  • Inspiration
  • Acceptance

You can really choose any word you like. My word for last year was perseverance. It served me well. Interestingly, I didn’t consciously choose a guiding word this year, but I have felt drawn to the words faith and courage over and over again.

What word will you choose as a theme word this week/month? Have you ever chosen a guiding word for the year, and has it made a difference?

Creativity

Journal prompt: I don’t want to write about…

What do you avoid writing about? Why?

Now that I’ve gotten back into the swing of simple written journaling, I’m finding myself gradually peeling back the layers behind my words. I’m also on a break from work, so I have more time to really delve deep.

The other day, on my weekend getaway to the beach, I found myself carefully dancing around a few issues in my journal. Actually, no, I was flat-out avoiding them.

I wanted to write. I picked up my journal and jotted down a few straightforward lines, but I kept hovering at the surface.

Eventually, I wrote: There are some things I am avoiding talking about right now. Then, to maintain momentum, I listed them off quickly, one after the other.

dont-want-to-write

And just seeing them on the page in front of me was a relief. Why I had I been so scared to write these things down? And besides, what was my journal for if not to explore and resolve problems I’m having?

I decided to be brave and venture further. It was a conscious choice – I decided I wanted to face and explore these things, even though that might feel uncomfortable.

Well, it was a good idea, because it led me to several solutions. And for those issues I didn’t manage to resolve, I certainly felt a sense of relief. There’s something about putting the scary things in our heads down in words that takes away their power.

>>> Prompt:

Take some time out when you won’t be disturbed and make sure you are somewhere you feel safe.

Write at the top of the page: I don’t want to write about/I am avoiding talking about…

Take a deep breath and remind yourself that whatever emotions you feel, you can handle them. Then, let the words flow out of your pen. *

If it feels a bit daunting, you could set a timer and write only for say, 10 minutes. However, I felt the best after letting my issues reach a natural resolution in my journal. This doesn’t mean they were solved, but it means that I felt like I had naturally finished saying what I wanted to at that point. I think if I had set a timer it may have felt unresolved.

If it feels like nothing is coming, or you feel too afraid to face whatever the issue is, that is ok. You could wait for a bit, or simply leave the exercise for another day. Be kind to yourself, go gently.

I suggest you only do this exercise when you feel like you are prepared to deal with whatever comes up. For example, I wrote about my difficult things when I was away somewhere that I always feel safe, a place I go to rest and relax. I also had my best friend in the next room if I felt I needed someone further to talk to.

*Note: obviously a journal, as wonderful as it is, cannot be a replacement for a qualified mental health professional. If you are dealing with some serious trauma then please seek the appropriate professional help. Journaling can be a wonderful tool to use along with therapy but certainly cannot be a replacement for it if your situation calls for it.

Creativity

Journal prompt: Letter to your son or daughter

Last weekend when I was playing around in my altered book journal, I made a two page spread that looked a little like old paper. I didn’t want to put lots of images and colours on there like I usually do, so I decided to do a bit of writing.

altered-book-07As it’s not my normal written journal (but rather a place that is a little more playful) I decided to do something a little bit different: a letter to my (future) daughter.

I don’t have kids yet, but my partner and I talk about how we want to raise our kids when we do have them. I think a lot about the things I value in my life and some of the more conscious decisions I’ve made for myself over the past year (to avoid mainstream media/advertising, quit dieting, downsize and focus on what’s really important, etc). I often think about what I want to teach my kids, when I have them, and especially my daughter(s), because I think it is so hard growing up in this day and age for young women.

So that is what I did – I wrote a letter to my future daughter, with all the lessons I’ve learned so far. The funny thing is, all the advice I seemed to be offering was indeed advice I needed to hear too!

>>> Prompt:

Take a fresh page in your journal. If you like you could do this in an art journal and include images and colour too.

Now, from the heart and as honestly as you can, write a letter to your future (or current!) children. If you don’t have children or don’t plan to/want to have children, write the letter to a niece or nephew, or someone younger you care about.

Your letter may take the form of advice, as mine has, or it may be about your story, something personal you want to share. There is no right or wrong way to do this.

travel

I just wanted to share with my future daughter the lessons that most stand out to me at this stage in my life. I’m sure if I wrote the same letter in 5 years time, some lessons would be the same and there would hopefully be others to add!

Some of my advice included the following:

  • Trust your intuition
  • Be bold – have courage
  • Dream big and don’t listen to those who say you can’t
  • Travel and see the world
  • Find a creative outlet you love and create often
  • Love yourself unconditionally. You’re good enough – imperfections and all
  • Find others you love and cherish them

What would you write to your (future) son or daughter?

Creativity, What Inspires Me

Prompt and poem: Roses, late summer

Today I’m struggling to find my own words, so I once again turn to the wonderful words of Mary Oliver. I only have her New and Selected Poems, but I think I will need to buy more of her poetry collections!

Roses, Late Summer

What happens
to the leaves after
they turn red and golden and fall
away? What happens

to the singing birds
when they can’t sing
any longer? What happens
to their quick wings?

Do you think there is any
personal heaven
for any of us?
Do you think anyone,

the other side of that darkness,
will call to us, meaning us?
Beyond the trees
the foxes keep teaching their children

to live in the valley.
So they never seem to vanish, they are always there
in the blossom of the light
that stands up every morning

in the dark sky.
And over one more set of hills,
along the sea,
the last roses have opened their factories of sweetness

and are giving it back to the world.
If I had another life
I would want to spend it all on some
unstinting happiness.

I would be a fox, or a tree
full of waving branches.
I wouldn’t mind being a rose
in a field full of roses.

Fear has not yet occurred to them, nor ambition.
Reason they have not yet thought of.
Neither do they ask how long they must be roses, and then what.
Or any other foolish question.

Prompt >>>

You might use the poem above as a prompt in your journal – to be answered with words, or with images as you like.

Oliver suggests that roses, foxes and birds – all of nature – just gets on with living without asking questions. She suggests their sense of purpose is innate and they are not distracted from it with ponderings about the world and how it works.

I love the final stanza. If you were to stop being fearful, or ambitious, what would you be doing?

If you were to stop feeling uncertain, to stop asking ‘foolish questions’, what would be your innate purpose?

‘Fear has not yet occurred to them’ – what are you afraid of?