Creativity, Self Empowerment

Journal prompts: Take action on your dreams

This probably seems insanely obvious. Dreams don’t just come into fruition out of nowhere.

But it wasn’t until I started journaling every day that it became clear to me there was a disconnect between my big dreams and my daily life. The act of connecting with myself each day made this absurdly obvious.

dreamsThe funny thing is, if you don’t make an effort in some way to check in with yourself, to generate awareness around your dreams and the way you are living your life, it’s easy to go months or years without realising this.

I’ve never had trouble with the dreaming side of things – that has always come naturally to me. I’m a romantic, a day dreamer, an optimist, and an ever-hopeful creative with a big heart. I’m forever dreaming up projects, plans, changes; ideal homes, days, lives.

I dream of travelling to distant lands, I dream of creating abundantly and helping others to do the same, I dream of living a sustainable life where I can live off the land and support myself. I dream of having books published, touring and inspiring thousands, leaving a mark on the world and making it a little better.

And the thing about journaling each day is that I found myself clarifying exactly what I wanted and when I wanted it. I drilled down to the bedrock of my deepest values and hopes. Suddenly, going about my ‘normal’ daily life, right after writing about the life I really longed to live, seemed absurd. Getting up to go to the same job each day to pay bills for a life I didn’t love almost became comical.

And that’s when I began to realise that unless I made conscious choices, each and every day, to take action, to step past my current life and into the life I wanted, nothing would change.

So what did I do? I started blogging and sharing my creative journey in order to connect with other creatives and develop a base from which to build an online business. I went from full-time to part-time work in order to have less stress and more mental, emotional and creative breathing room. I began the crazy process of building a tiny house with my partner. We purchased some land and moved a little further out of town so we could start to live a lifestyle more in alignment with our values.

In other words, I actually took steps to change my life. As long as I keep journaling I will maintain the awareness required to make sure my life is in alignment with my dreams.

>>> Prompt:take action

Set aside a little time when you won’t be bothered or disturbed. On an empty spread in your journal, make a giantbrainstorm (or list, or whatever method you prefer) of all the things you want. It doesn’t matter how big or small they are. You may want to visit every country in the world, or you may want to get a new piece of furniture for your home. You may want to be in better shape, or you may want to meet new people. Whatever it is, get it all out. Write until you fully run out of ideas.

Now, on another page, answer the following questions:

  • What are you doing each day to make one/some of/all of these dreams a reality?
  • What are you not doing to make them happen?
  • What is one small thing you could do today to take you one step closer to one of these dreams?

Write out this quote from Picasso and put it somewhere prominent:

Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.

Try this: remember Venn diagrams from school? On a new spread in your journal, draw two big overlapping circles that take up most of the pages (see image in the link above). In one circle, write all the things you dream of for your life and yourself. In the other circle, write about the way your life actually looks/is. In the overlap between the two circles, identify areas where you are already taking steps towards, or actually living the life you want.

Note: this post was originally part of a series of 30 life lessons and journal prompts for my 30th birthday. You can access the rest of the lessons and prompts here.

Creativity, Self Empowerment

Journal prompts: Nobody expects me to be perfect but me

I think this should be the mantra of every perfectionist.

How did I get it into my head that I have to be perfect? Because when I stop to think about it, this lesson is so very true – no one else expects perfection from me, just as I don’t expect perfection from anyone else.

But when it comes to myself – my own work, my own appearance, my own life – I want it to look and be perfect. Of course, no one else looks at me with such high standards.

Unconsciously trying to be perfect is one of the things that stops me from even starting things.

When I look back now, I done somethingrealise there are so many things I’ve not done simply because I feared I couldn’t do them perfectly, even if that fear was unconscious at the time (as I think it often is). I’ve started novels, paintings, classes, careers, hobbies of all kinds, only to give up when it became clear that I wasn’t doing it perfectly.

Like my novel – I gave up because it didn’t seem good enough so it sort of felt like, what’s the point? But imagine if I’d finished it! I would have a complete novel by now if I’d kept going. It wouldn’t be perfect but it would be done.

Perfectionism is very limiting in my creativity but also in other areas of my life – how I look, speak, behave etc. I find I am often judging myself against some self-created, unreasonably high standards.

So I try to remind myself – the only person who expects perfection from me, is me. And if that’s the case, maybe I can change my expectations of myself?

>>> Prompt:

What does perfectionism mean to you? What would it mean to you if you were perfect? In what ways do you expect perfection of yourself? How attainable is this, really?

What have you put off, quit or not even attempted because of a fear of not doing it perfectly?

If you were to embrace the beauty of mess and mistakes, what could you do?

Note: this post was originally part of a series of 30 life lessons and journal prompts for my 30th birthday. You can access the rest of the lessons and prompts here.

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

Don’t have time to journal? Think again

Sometimes we don’t have the time and space we need to be alone and journal. We may have the best of intentions but the universe puts obstacles in our way.

I like to think that these are little tests to see how committed we really are.

For a while I was getting up super early… but it wasn’t really working. I naturally need a reasonable amount of sleep, and I was struggling to get myself to bed by 9pm in order to get my 8 hours. I feel like my evenings are my time to be creative, play in my art journal, or spend time with loved ones.

I’ve been really reluctant to give my body the extra rest it needs by sleeping a bit later. Last week I started to get headaches and when I found myself contemplating a fifth cup of coffee one day I decided I just had to go with it.

But my journaling! I tried just working for a couple of days without journaling first – I thought, maybe I could journal in the evening? But it didn’t feel right. I didn’t start the day with the usual positivity and intention. I felt a little… directionless (if that’s a word).

I can’t exactly journal at my desk when I get to work because I have colleagues sitting next to me. Not exactly an environment conducive to pouring my deepest fears and desires onto the page. Plus, work is associated with, well, work. Not creativity.

As I mentioned I don’t actually have to be at work until close to 9am, so I found an unusual solution:

I journal in my car.

This way I can miss the bad traffic, but find a nice quiet place to pull over where I can write for a while before I get to work. Sure, it’s not ideal. But it’s better than not journaling at all! Given that my job is only short-term, this will work in the mean time.

At first I felt a little ridiculous pulling out my giant pencil-case in the front seat (it needs to be giant to fit my selection of pens and some washi tape).

But then I thought, who cares?

I reclined the seat, tucked my feet under me and just wrote. It was fine. I even brought coffee from home in a travel mug (bonus points to those who recognise the company logo on my coffee mug!).

The other thing I noticed is that a change in view is good. I can choose a different spot if I want a different view. I feel close to nature with trees and the rain just outside, but my car is warm. It’s still a personal space, and while I miss having my pup at my feet and burning my essential oil, it still gives me the time I need.

I’m talking about all this because I want to point out something:

Journaling can be done in many places.

I know I have talked about making a ritual out of your journaling but really if need be, it can be done when and wherever. If you’re stuck for space to be alone, why not try journaling in a cafe? You could always find a table in the corner or somewhere that you can get a little privacy. Or if you’re running between appointments and find you have a spare 30 minutes, you could journal in your car. Or in a park. Or a library. I’ve even heard of people journaling on the subway ride to work!

Find what will work for you. And if you need to, do something a little different. Don’t let life get in the way of your journaling.

How have you made more time to journal? Share in the comments.

Creativity

How to journal when you don’t know what to say

Sometimes I just feel like journaling. I just want to pick up my journal and my pen (and my washi tape and other bits and pieces) and play in my journal.

Although I do love to use paints, stickers and washi tape to decorate my journal pages, my main focus in my journal is often writing.

And some days I sit down with my journal and I have nothing to say.

Or, at least, I start out thinking I have nothing to say. Usually once I put pen to paper and ease into it, I find myself talking about all kinds of things. Often I end up writing about something that I had no idea I would even talk about.

But we all need somewhere to start.

It can be daunting opening a fresh page and thinking, ‘I want to write’ or worse, ‘I should write’ – but not knowing how to begin.

Anais Nin (a journaling legend) offers this advice:

Put yourself in the present. This was my principle when I wrote the diary – to write the thing I felt most strongly about that day. Start there and that starts the whole unravelling, because that has roots in the past and it has branches into the future… I chose the event of the day that I felt most strongly about, the most vivid one, the warmest one, the nearest one, the strongest one.

I love this. I think sometimes we feel that an entry into our journals needs to reveal some profound truth, or be really deep. But it is the normal moments of each day that make up our lives.

Choose something that stood out to you today, for whatever reason. It might be as simple as sitting in the sun with a cup of coffee, laughing with a colleague, or taking a hot shower after a long day.

It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it warm, near or strong – to you.

It can be harder to follow this advice if you are writing first thing in the morning, in which case you are usually starting fresh, without the events of the day to guide you. You could recall the events of the previous day, or you could start where you are.

In A Voice of Her Own, Marlene A. Schiwy suggests using a basic Gestalt exercise to begin: write for ten minutes on each of the following starters:

‘I feel… I need… I want’.

It might not seem like much but these simple starters can open up to much deeper ideas.

If you are using this first thing in the morning, you could use these prompts to guide you for the day ahead – how you feel in the morning, and how you’d like to feel later in the day. What you need to do that day to feel fulfilled or satisfied (avoid using this as a chance to make another to-do list: most of us do that enough!). You could list what you want from the day to come.

In either case, the idea of starting with today, or right now, is the best way to begin.

You don’t always have to know what you will say when you journal – you just have to start where you are and let the words find you.

Creativity

The importance of not creating

 

Lately I’ve been in a creative funk.

I’m not sure why.

People have suggested the full blood moon and lunar eclipse has brought some strange energy.

Whatever it is, I’ve been feeling extremely tired and sleeping a lot more than usual. And I already sleep a lot as it is.

This has left little time or energy for me to create or feel inspired. I’ve found myself wanting to watch TV shows, movies, read, but mostly just sleep.

Usually I find a way to get some creating into each day even if I feel tired – it might be simply just writing in my journal and playing with some stamps, or scraping a bit on paint across a page.

I always feel better for creating.

But these past few days I haven’t been able to bring myself to do that. I haven’t blogged – I missed my usual artjournal Wednesday post – and I haven’t done any painting, collage or anything else. I haven’t even really written in my journal all that much (which means I have some catching up to do for NaJoWriMo!).

Initially I felt guilty. I felt bad for stepping away from the things that I have made a commitment to because they bring me so much joy. But then I realised that, just like times of intense creativity and productivity, there also will be times where I don’t want to create at all, where I have nothing in me to give.

And that’s ok.

It’s a cyclical thing, this creative energy. It comes and goes, waxes and wanes.

So I’ve learnt to listen to my body, to sleep as much as I need, and know that my creative energy will come back around. Because the thing about the cycle is that I can enjoy this period of rest, knowing that some more productivity will soon be on its way.

I remind myself that while it’s important for me to create, it’s equally important for me to not create at times too.

It’s tough but it comes down to making peace with the process, accepting things as they are and having faith that this won’t last.

How do you deal with your creative down times?

What Inspires Me

Weekly inspiration

Each week I share the blog posts and links I’ve found most inspiring. Feel free to share anything that has inspired you this week in the comments below.

soul orientedApril is National Journal Writing Month. I’m thinking of doing the NaJoWriMo 15,000 word challenge – writing 500 words a day for 30 days. Why should you do NaJoWriMo?

Have you signed up for Connie’s free 10 day art journaling series?

This Art of Journaling interview with Stacy is so inspiring!

Jessica has some great tips about making the most of your creative practice (find all 5 on her blog)

I just adored this peek into Gert’s journal at Seaweed Kisses!

Have an inspired week!

What Inspires Me

Weekly inspiration

Each week I share the links and posts that I’ve most been inspired by. Feel free to share anything that has inspired you this week in the comments below.

creativityJamie shares her core creative practices, what are yours?

As someone who wants to start recording and sharing videos, I was excited to see Seaweed Kisses has started a YouTube channel!

Rae talks about mark-making as a focal point on an art journal page – something I plan to explore more

Tammy has launched a new course for anyone who wants to learn about beginning to journal

Have you seen this free online course about coming into alignment with your creative source?

Have an inspired week!

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

Art journal Wednesday

Each week I share a page from my art journal. I love to peek into the art journals of others, and hope to inspire someone else by sharing my own work.

Just a simple page this week. It uses alphabet stamps and a Buddha stamp that I hand carved.

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