Creativity, Self Empowerment

Journal prompt: I need…

It’s easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of every day life. Sometimes we are so busy running from one thing to the next that we forget to do the things we need to look after ourselves. In other words, we let our self-care take a backseat.

Sometimes, just bringing awareness to things we need at a particular time in our lives can help us start to address the imbalance.

I know for me that I have been feeling especially run-down and unwell lately. This is a sign that my body, mind and spirit need things that I’m not currently providing. So, I found this simple journal prompt to be really helpful.

>>> Prompt:I need more

Take a blank page in your journal. If you like to write big, a two page spread might be better.

At the top of one page, write the words ‘I need more…’ and then write ‘I need less…’ at the top of the other page.

Then, write whatever comes to mind under each of the headings.

You may choose to do this in list format, as a mindmap, or just stream-of-consciousness. You could even do it as an art journal page and doodle/draw or collage images and colours that represent how you want to feel. Do whatever feels best for you.

If you want to stay focused on the positive, then you might just do the ‘I need more’ list.

Here are a few of the things from my lists right now:

I need more:

  • magic
  • time out in nature
  • art-making
  • connection
  • rest
  • nourishing food
  • action

I need less:

  • rushing
  • stress
  • numbing
  • television
  • worry
  • comparison
  • doubt

Your lists may look similar to mine, or they may be totally different.

You might find that there are a few things on the list that appear to be in conflict with one another. For example, on my ‘I need more list’ I put both rest and action. I can take these two words and do some free-writing to explore this further.

It might also be helpful to choose one or two things that really stand out to you from each list, then jot down a few ideas of how to get more/less of that thing.

So for me, I want more rest and less television, more creativity and less numbing – I could spend more time reading, journaling and napping when I feel tired, rather than turning to television or the internet to distract myself.

What do you most need right now? Share your experiences with this prompt in the comments below.

What Inspires Me

Sunday gratitude

I am going back to work tomorrow after a two-week break. In truth, I’m a little apprehensive about it.

The past term was tough and there were a few times I felt myself being pulled away from all the wonderful creative practices I have worked so hard to cultivate in my life. This term, I determined to remain focused on the things that matter and to draw clear boundaries between work and home.

I’m lucky, in a sense, to get regular time away from work to recover – although I must say that without it I think most teachers wouldn’t last the year.

The past two weeks have allowed me time to catch my breath, move a little slower and savour more of my time. I’ve spent more time being creative, relaxing, resting, outside walking, journaling, planning my business, dreaming, planning my tiny house, and just generally not feeling so stressed and overwhelmed.

It has been lovely.

Here are a few of the things I am most grateful for, from the past week:

  • Sleeping more (something I don’t get to do enough during the term!)
  • Spending time with family, friends and my partner
  • Taking my pup for more walks
  • Having the time to create my blog planner
  • Making my lunch fresh, at home, every day
  • Reading in bed until late morning
  • Watching some of my favourite TV shows
  • Journaling more often
  • Having time to read blogs and other inspirational material online
  • Just pottering around the house, sometimes aimlessly, and staying in my PJs well past breakfast…

As I head back to work tomorrow, I am mindful focusing on the positive and maintaining my creative practices in my own time.

What are you most grateful for this week?

Creativity

Back from a weekend break: Art journal peeks

I’ve just come back from a lovely weekend away with my best friend. We spent the entire weekend talking about our exciting new business venture, drinking wine, art journaling, walking on the beach and resting. Not to mention (she is an avid journaler too) we stole a few quiet hours away alone each day to journal.

I am finally starting to feel like myself again after what has possibly been the most difficult term of my teaching career.

Journaling in my lined written journal has been great, just getting back to basics. As I had the time this weekend to just write as much as I wanted to, I found myself exploring issues that have been bubbling away below the surface for a while now. unsurprisingly, solutions came to me as I wrote.

All in all, a very healing weekend.

I worked quite a lot with my paints in my altered book, too. Below are a few peeks of my favourite bits.

altered book 03

altered book 05

altered book 06

altered book 04

I didn’t really realise quite how much blue and turquoise I had used until I looked back through these pictures! I guess I was using those lovely colours to invoke a sense of calm and peace after a hectic few months at work.

I also notice now that the theme of travel, journeys and freedom came up a few times. I think I’m feeling the need to go out into the world and take a break from stress!

I’m lucky to now have two weeks away from work to unwind. People always joke that teachers have it so easy with ‘all the holidays’ but boy, do we need them.

I hope you all had a lovely weekend and took some time out to journal.

Self Empowerment

Let sleep heal you

I don’t know about you, but I’m a real sleep person.

I need more than the average person. Some people can manage on 6 or 7 hours a night – I can get 9 and still be tired.

I think it’s because I’m a highly sensitive person – I tend to get overwhelmed and exhausted more easily.

And being a busy teacher doesn’t help.

Sometimes we just need to sleep and rest. Today is one of those days for me.

If you are feeling tired, take time to rest without feeling guilty. Your to do list can wait. The laundry can wait. The vacuuming can wait. Take a luxurious nap in the afternoon. Sleep in late and have tea in bed when you wake up. Read and go back to sleep.

Rest and let sleep heal you.

Creativity

Journal prompt: Balance your creative energy

I’m feeling quite drained at the moment. Work is very busy and when I do have free time I’m trying to fit in my journaling – both written and art journaling.

I’ve been listening to an audio book in my car on the way to work which is fascinating: Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. The book gives quite specific details of the daily working/creative rituals of artists, writers, musicians, philosophers and other creatives from all different time periods.

One thing that has stood out to me is how often each of these daily rituals include some form of investment in creative energy.

lovely-list

What I mean is this: when we spend a lot of time working, or creating, or socialising, we are effectively spending our creative energy. These are activities whereby we produce and our energy flows outwards.

If we do too much of these activities, particularly if we are introverted, we can end up feeling a bit drained.

Our society puts a lot of emphasis on being productive and expending energy, but we need to make sure that we are taking the time to renew that creative energy too.

I think it’s really important to balance this with doing restful and rejuvenating things whereby we ‘refill’ our creative energy tanks. These are things where we receive something, rather than produce something. I guess it’s like receiving inspiration, in a way. It’s like a sort of investment in our creative bank account, so that we then have enough to ‘spend’ later.

For me, things where I consider myself to be spending my creative energies are:

  • Working
  • Writing
  • Socialising with groups of people
  • Blogging
  • Art journaling (certain kinds)
  • Doing housework
  • Doing things for others (most of my day job is about this)

So I need to remember to balance this with activities that refill my creative tanks and renew my creative energy:

  • Reading
  • Listening to inspiring/relaxing music
  • Listening to audio books
  • Listening to guided meditations
  • Journaling (although I technically ‘produce’ something when journaling, the act of deliberately thinking, writing and reflecting fills me up more than it drains me)
  • Napping/sleeping
  • Sitting with a cup of tea/coffee in the morning sun, being still and taking my time
  • Long walks
  • Spending time with people who get me and inspire me – usually having long and interesting talks
  • Cuddles with my partner or puppy
  • Yoga
  • Watching an interesting documentary or inspiring movie

I’m not suggesting that one list is better or more important than the other. To me, it’s about balance. We need to spend our creative energies, but of course we also need to invest in them.

>>> Prompts:

Take a fresh page in your journal. Create two headings:

  • How I spend my creative energy
  • How I renew my creative energy

List all the things you can think of under each heading. Your lists may look similar to mine or they may be very different. It all comes down to what works for you.

If you’re not sure which heading to put something under, consider this: does the activity leave you feeling more tired/drained or rejuvenated/refreshed afterwards?

Now, think about whether or not your life has a good balance between the two lists. If not, consider how you can bring in more of the other to create more balance for your creative energy.

Creativity

Journal prompt: Your perfect day

I’m at the beginning of a journey to overhaul my life.

There are many things I want to change, and I’m using journaling as a tool to keep me honestly asking myself what I want my life to look like, and to help me find the courage I need each step of the way.

I also use my journal as a place to dream what my new life will look like.

We often do this for the big picture stuff – what job we want, where we want to live, what kind of partner we are looking for.

I think it can be easy to overlook the simple day-to-day moments that make up a good life. A while ago I asked you to dream big by thinking about what you want for your life in your journal. Now, I want you to dream smaller: think about your perfect day. This journal prompt should help you to do just that.

perfect-day

Sandy Grason (author of Journalution) says:

In your journals you can collect visions of how you would like your days to unfold. Reflect on them often. Meditating on these visions and imagining that you are living them will help attract the circumstances to create them. As you get clearer and clearer about your life and your dreams, paths will appear.

>>> Prompt:

Write, in great detail, about your perfect day. Start in the morning. Consider where you wake up – what kind of bed it is, who is there with you, what time of day it is. What can you see around you? What view is out the window? What do you do – do you get up and make coffee, do you stretch before the sunrise, or do you sleep until midday? What do you eat for breakfast? Who do you spend your time with, and what do you do? Give all the details. Continue in much the same amount of detail for the rest of the day.

details

Here’s the fun part – you don’t have to limit yourself to one day. Perhaps you could do one ‘outrageous’ perfect day (you know – the one where you wake up and Johnny Depp is next to you, wanting to take you shopping and then rub your tired feet) and one more ‘likely’ perfect day.

My perfect day involves waking up when I felt rested, listening to my body rather than an alarm clock.

It means having the time and freedom to play in my art journal, write and walk my pup with my partner. Time out in nature, time to rest, delicious food. This is certainly achievable for me, in my long-term plans, and having regular days like this will really help to fill me up.

These are the kinds of perfect days I will incorporate more and more into my life as I create a life more in line with my values.

My ‘outrageous’ perfect day involves waking up in Rome and wandering down the cobbled streets eating pastry before flying to Manhattan to party into the night with the cast of The Office. Not exactly something I would want for my everyday life (or very likely to happen!), but certainly an amazing day!

What is your perfect day?

Creativity, Self Empowerment, Spirituality

Gratitude as a daily practice

 

There is a good deal of scientific evidence to support the practice of gratitude, much of it from Martin Seligman.

While I actively try to practice gratitude each day through simply thinking about what I’m lucky to have in my life, Seligman suggests writing a list of things that went well in your day, so that you have a physical record.

As a creative journaling addict, I look for any excuse to get out the art supplies and play! A daily gratitude list is the perfect excuse.

Seligman suggests that the reason we need to make a conscious effort to acknowledge what is good in our lives is because we are hardwired to look out for threats and danger.

We tend to spend more time analysing things that have gone wrong, rather than celebrating the good things, because in the past, it made good sense for our survival. Of course, things are  a little different now.

As part of your daily gratitude practice, take a few minutes towards the end of the day to write three things that went well that day. Also write why they happened. You should do this for at least a week to experience positive changes.

For example, my list today looks like this:

  • I wrote in my journal for two hours because this is important to me and I made the time
  • I slept in late because I needed the rest and wanted to look after myself
  • I wrote two blog posts, despite missing a day, because I’m committed to finishing the 100 Days Project

What are three things that have gone well for you today? Why have they gone well? Try to do this every day for a week and see how you’re feeling. It need only take 5 minutes tops!

Seligman promises that by practising gratitude each day like this, we’ll be “less depressed, happier, and addicted to this exercise six months from now.”

Sounds pretty good to me!

Creativity

Journal prompt: The ‘stop doing’ list

I’ve started reading The Creative Entrepreneur by Lisa Sonora Beam, and I love it. I’m a very visual person and the thought of planning a business the ‘normal’ way bores me to tears. But this book is something else!

Anyway, I got this awesome idea from it: the ‘stop doing’ list.

We are so busy running around, dashing from one thing to the next, and running a mental checklist of all the things we have to do. I feel like I have a never-ending to-do list, and just when I think I’ve checked off something I find another five things to add to it.

The focus most days seems to be on adding to the list, rather than ticking things off.

As a highly sensitive person, it doesn’t take much for me to feel overwhelmed. On my busiest days, I sometimes find the simplest things to be too much.

While I find writing a to-do list to be helpful as it allows me to organise my thoughts, I really like the idea of a stop doing list. Rather than writing another list of things I have to do, things I’m cramming into an already full schedule, why not look for the things I can stop doing, the things that don’t really add any value to my life?

stop-doing-list

>>> Prompt:

Take a fresh page in your journal. You can complete this prompt in whatever way feels best for you: a list, a mindmap, visually, or just free writing whatever comes to mind. If you like to use a filofax or a planner, it might be nice to take one of your to-do pages and change the heading to ‘stop doing’!

Now, consider all the things that you do on a regular basis that don’t contribute anything to your life, or contribute very little. What can you take away so that you can allow more space for the good things to grow?

Here are a few of the things from my stop doing list – things that don’t add any value to my life:

  • Browsing Facebook and Instagram aimlessly
  • Online shopping for craft supplies (mostly – this is a tough one!)
  • Complaining about feeling tired
  • Watching TV shows/films I don’t absolutely love
  • Spending time with people who don’t support my dreams or don’t ‘get’ me
  • Going to bed late

Take one thing from your list and make a real effort to remove it from your life for the next week. See if it makes a difference! For the next seven days I really want to work on complaining about feeling tired – I really want to spend less of my energy thinking about that, and more energy focused on the good feelings.

I think it is essential that we take a good look at our lives from time to time to see what’s working and what’s not. It’s easy to fall into bad habits without realising.

If there are things you can take out of your life so there is more room for the good stuff – then do it!

Having more time and energy free to dream, journal, be creative, be positive and just move at a slower pace will contribute to a greater quality of life than keeping up with the Kardashians or catching up with friends you don’t really love to be with.

It’s your life and your time, so you get to choose how you spend it. I know we all have obligations (work, kids, partners, looking after family members, etc) but often we are spending our free time in ways that don’t actually add value to our lives. You have control over how you spend this time!

Stop doing the things that don’t add to your life.