Self Empowerment

Join me for a simple, free, nourishing practice in December

There’s something about this time of year that makes me excited about the new year to come – new possibilities, new opportunities – a fresh start.

This time last year I noticed how much I wanted to rush forward into the new year, even with a whole month of 2016 remaining. In fact, I always feel this way at this time of year! And it’s not just me: I think a lot of us are tempted to rush through December and get to the new year.

So last year I asked: what if we slowed down and really savoured December? Rather than crashing into the new year and attempting to start fresh then, we can step gracefully into the new year with a nourishing daily routine already in place. We don’t have to wait until January to start feeling good – let’s do it now.

This led to a simple project called Deliberate December – where you are intentional with your time each day. Initially it was around starting (or ending) the day with intention, but this year I’ve expanded it a bit.

The idea for this round of Deliberate December is to take some time each day – any time of day – to slow down, be present and feel grateful for the things around you. It’s to really sink into the moment, to find the stillness and savour what is left of the year. You might like to actively do something for each day of the month (like journaling, or mediating, or walking), or you might just take a minute each day to be still. The choice is yours – but the emphasis is on being present and enjoying the month, rather than waiting for the new year to start.

How it works

You don’t have to sign up for anything or pay for anything. Simply, all you have to do is commit to doing something deliberately every day (or most days) in December – in whatever way feels good for you. I’ll provide some simple prompts for each day of December (below) to help guide you if you need.

If you feel like it, you can share an image each day with the hashtag #mydeliberatedecember.

Some things you might want to consider for your own Deliberate December practice:

– What time of day do you want to do it?

– What do you want to include? I recommend really thinking about what will make you feel good, not what you think you should include. Some things you might like to consider are:

  • Meditation
  • Morning pages
  • Journaling
  • Exercise – yoga, walking, swimming, etc
  • Reading
  • Prayer
  • Time outside
  • Painting, drawing or other arty things
  • Self care such as taking a bath, applying some lovely body lotion, deep breathing, a lovely cup of tea, etc.

Note: This practice is about the practice, not producing a product. The focus is on what you are doing and how it feels, not what you might be producing. It’s about being deliberate with your days, not producing a collection of paintings or reading a certain number of books. Being present in the process is what is most important.

Prompts to guide you

I created some prompts to help you in your Deliberate December practice. You don’t have to use these, but they might be helpful. These are very simple, and can be used in any way that feels good to you.

Deliberate December 2017

You could use the prompts each day as a guide to:

  • Write a journal entry
  • Paint or draw
  • Take a photograph
  • Write a blog post
  • Do some hand lettering/calligraphy
  • Share a thought/image on social media
  • Find a quote that inspires you
  • Pray
  • Meditate/visualise
  • Contemplate how you can bring more of each quality into your life
  • Remind you – use as a guiding word of the day and come back to it throughout the day
  • Any combination of the above!

My practice will include a combination of journaling (written and visual), photography and sharing on social media.

What to do when you miss a day

Right now, acknowledge that you will likely miss a day, you will ‘mess up’. This practice is exactly that – a practice. It is not meant to be perfect. It’s meant to be gentle and nourishing. This is not another chance to beat yourself up.

If you miss a day of your Deliberate December, then simply get back to it the next day. No blame, no criticism, no guilt.

Remember, it’s about the process, the practice. Even if you were only practicing every second day you would still feel better than not at all. Be open to not doing it perfectly.

The other thing is that you can change the practice if it’s not working for you. Don’t panic about being locked into doing something. If you get a few days in, or halfway, and it’s not working anymore, then change it! You have permission to do what works for you.

Before you begin: Prompts to get you thinking about your own Deliberate December practice

  • What is most missing from your life right now?
  • What do you need more of?
  • What do you want less of?
  • How could you nourish and care for yourself more?
  • What feels manageable for you to do each day?
  • Imagine it is the start of 2018 and you’ve spent December more deliberately. What things might have you been doing? How would you feel?
  • What tools could you use to help you stay on track?

Comment below and share your ideas for your own Deliberate December practice.

Creativity

Write to the Centre – A book review and giveaway

Write to the Centre: Navigating life with gluestick and words
by Helen Lehndorf

Write to the Centre - Helen Lehndorf

Do you ever feel like you are a total weirdo? Like no one understands you, or if people knew what you really think, they might be horrified? Do you ever struggle to understand your own feelings and reactions to things and need a bit of help untangling them? I do, I do and I do. – Helen Lehndorf

This book. I don’t know where to start except to say that I love it. LOVE it.

Flipping through it simply to look at the gorgeous imagery is enough to inspire me – a few pages in and I’m itching to get out my journal, gluestick and paints, and get creating.

But the text itself is also inspiring. I’d describe it as part how-to, part memoir. The author shares excerpts from her own journal alongside guidance on journal-keeping. All her ideas and advice are illustrated by her own words from her own journals.

From Write to the Centre

There’s just something so intimate and comforting about reading the words of another’s journals – something that tells you that you’re not alone in your feelings, experiences, views of the world. By the end of the book I feel like I know Helen – like I’ve met a kindred spirit on a journey similar to mine: someone trying to find their way in the world, using creative practice to make sense of it all.

She covers topics like getting started and making journaling a habit, allowing the ugly, navigating life transitions in your journal, processing pain, solving problems, creating rituals, appreciating the good. And each chapter ends with a unique and detailed journaling prompt to get you working in your own journal.

From Write to the Centre

My favourite thing about this book is the imagery from Helen’s visual journals. It is an absolute feast for the eyes and soul; Helen’s distinctive and unique journaling style is colourful, messy and intuitive. She combines collage, painting and her handwriting to create honest and interesting journal pages (see more of her style here). It’s a great book to dip into for a creative boost.

You can grab your copy of the book here.

Giveaway

—- The giveaway is now closed —-

Helen has been generous enough to provide me with a copy to give away. I’m so thrilled to be able to do this because it is such a gorgeous book and it needs to be in the hands of every visual journaler. I’m also throwing in a set of watercolour paints to get you painting in your journal. Here’s how to enter:

  • Share this post, or the image below on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+) or on your own blog
  • Use the hashtag #writetothecentregiveaway
  • Comment below (so I know you’ve shared it and I have a way to contact you!) telling me where you shared it and what you love most about journaling
  • Closes August 31st midnight EST 2017

Win a copy of the gorgeous journaling book Write to the Centre and a set of watercolour paints!

Full disclosure – I was sent a free copy of the book and asked to review it – but I had already purchased my own copy so that’s why I’m giving this copy away. Everything I’ve said in this review comes from my heart – I just adore the book and recommend it to any journaling enthusiast like myself.

Motherhood, What Inspires Me

An update and a little inspiration for you…

I’m six weeks into my new role as a mama and honestly, this is such a strange time.

So far, I am just keeping my head above the water. Each time I look at my little boy I feel overcome with joy and gratitude for the amazing wee thing that he is – except when it’s 3am and he won’t sleep, or when he’s been cluster feeding for five hours straight. Then I just try to keep breathing.

I know I’m so lucky to have a healthy, gorgeous little bubba – but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t moments I’ve sobbed uncontrollably because I’m just so overwhelmed by the fact that this little guy relies on me 24/7 and it never lets up.

I’ve been so lucky to have my own mum on hand to babysit while I nap, and my fiance to do some of the night feeds so I can rest. It’s tough work being someone’s entire world, but each cuddle, each time he looks at me, each new thing he does makes it all worth it. This post perfectly describes my experience.

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So, while I’m stuck at home feeding around the clock, I’ve been watching endless films (seriously, I’m running out of new films now!) and also browsing online for hours. Here are a few of the things that have kept me going recently…

Did you choose a guiding word for 2017? Perhaps this powerful post will inspire you.

Despite not often having a free hand, I’m considering attempting the 30 Day Journal Project hosted by Lisa Sonora. The theme this time around is ‘Journey’, which I adore.

Speaking of Lisa Sonora, have you checked out her new video series? My faves so far are this video and post about keeping a studio journal, and this one where she shows us what art supplies are in her travel bag.

Is journaling – more specifically free writing – better than meditation?

Read this when you wonder if your story matters, or you’re feeling as though no one is listening when you write.

And for any new mamas our there feeling like me, read this hilarious article offering timeless practical advice for parents struggling to get their babies to sleep. Hopefully it will help to remind you that none of us know what we are doing.

More from me soon x

 

Self Empowerment

Join me for a simple, free, nourishing practice in December

I always get excited at this time of year. As the new year comes closer, I sense the chance for fresh beginnings, new dreams, growth.

Of course, there’s still a whole month of 2016 left to go! And by rushing to prepare for the new year, I’m shortchanging myself for this year.

A little while ago I shared an image from my journal on Instagram where I talked about how I had this bad habit of getting onto social media first thing in the morning, and how it made me feel crappy for the day ahead.

So many people commented and said they felt the same way. It got me thinking.

What if we set about to be a bit more deliberate with how we spend our time – whether morning, evening, or in between?

And then I thought, one of the most stressful times of year is coming up. If you’re working you might be rushing to get stuff done before the end of the year. If you’re a mum, wife or homemaker you might be stressing to get Christmas things organised – gifts, meals, decorations, whatever. You might be preparing to travel or have family come and stay. Or maybe you find the holidays a lonely and sad time, for whatever reason.

I think a lot of us are tempted to rush through December and get to the new year. But what if we slowed down and really savoured December? Rather than crashing into the new year and attempting to start fresh then, we can step gracefully into 2017 with a nourishing daily routine already in place. We don’t have to wait until January to start feeling good – let’s do it now.

So the idea for Deliberate December was born.

Deliberate December - a simple, nourishing practice to end the year feeling calm and content.

How it works

You don’t have to sign up for anything or pay for anything. Simply, all you have to do is commit to doing something deliberately every day (or most days) in December – in whatever way feels good for you. I’ll provide some simple journaling prompts below to get you thinking about what might feel good for you in December, and then you do it!

If you feel like it, you can share an image each day with the hashtag #mydeliberatedecember. Here’s how my Deliberate December is going to look:

Mornings: Each weekday, before 9am, I’m going to journal first thing and then do timed writing. I may or may not do these things on the weekend – I’m leaving that part open. The main thing is for me to not get straight onto social media, but to start my day deliberately.

Evenings: I also want to end my days with more intention, and I’ve been neglecting some essential pregnancy self-care rituals, so these will be done in the evenings. Before bed on weekdays, I’m going to do some gentle stretching and massage, meditation and reading before bed. Ideally this will take about 30 minutes, with the goal of getting to sleep by 11pm.

That’s it. Pretty straightforward.

Some things you might want to consider for your own Deliberate December practice:

– What time of day do you want to do it? I chose mornings because I’m off work now and am finding myself sort of drifting aimlessly into my days. This isn’t a good feeling. I added in evenings because I think if I go to bed with intention, I’m more likely to wake up with intention. Without the structure of work to guide me, I need to create my own structure.

– What do you want to include? I recommend really thinking about what will make you feel good, not what you think you should include. Some things you might like to consider are:

  • Meditation
  • Morning pages/journaling
  • Exercise – yoga, walking, swimming, etc
  • Reading
  • Prayer
  • Time outside
  • Painting
  • Self care such as taking a bath, applying some lovely body lotion, deep breathing, a lovely cup of tea, etc.

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Note: This practice is about the practice, not producing a product. The focus is on what you are doing and how it feels, not what you might be producing. It’s about being deliberate with your days, not producing a collection of paintings or reading a certain number of books. Being present in the process is what is most important.

Tools to help

I’m using a few tools to help me with my Deliberate December practice. These are things that can help keep me accountable and just make the whole process a bit easier. Here’s what I’m using:

  • The hashtag #mydeliberatedecember – sharing my progress with others will help to keep me accountable.
  • My journal itself is a way of keeping me accountable as I’m forced to confront myself each day – and why I may have chosen to not do my practice!
  • The Forest App – I have this as an app on my phone and a Chrome extension. It stops me from opening up other apps/tabs when I’m focused on doing something (like writing) and times my progress. Brilliant!
  • 750words.com – this is an online platform that tracks my daily timed writing to ensure I write a minimum of 750 words. This was originally based on the idea of Morning Pages, which are about 750 words long, so could be useful for that.
  • Guided meditation – I’m not sure which one I will do yet, but it will be short and easy (5-10 minutes). I’m thinking something from the Insight Timer App.

You could also use things like fitness trackers or timers if your practice includes fitness or exercise, updating Good Reads if your practice includes reading – or just simply share using the hashtag. Make it simple and fun!

What to do when you miss a day

Right now, acknowledge that you will likely miss a day, you will ‘mess up’. This practice is exactly that – a practice. It is not meant to be perfect. It’s meant to be gentle and nourishing. This is not another chance to beat yourself up.

If you miss a day of your Deliberate December, then simply get back to it the next day. No blame, no criticism, no guilt.

Remember, it’s about the process, the practice. Even if you were only practicing every second day you would still feel better than not at all. Be open to not doing it perfectly.

The other thing is that you can change the practice if it’s not working for you. Don’t panic about being locked into doing something. If you get a few days in, or halfway, and it’s not working anymore, then change it! Total freedom to do what works for you.

Prompts to get you thinking about your own Deliberate December Practice

  • What is most missing from your life right now?
  • What do you need more of?
  • What do you want less of?
  • How could you nourish and care for yourself more?
  • What feels manageable for you to do each day?
  • Do you want to focus more on how you start or end your day – or both? Or perhaps the middle?
  • Imagine it is the start of 2017 and you’ve spent December more deliberately. What things might have you been doing? How would you feel?
  • What tools could you use to help you stay on track?

Comment below and share your ideas for your own Deliberate December practice.

Spirituality

How my word for the year chose me

It’s quite a popular thing to choose a guiding word for the year. I’ve done this for the past couple of years, but this year I decided not to choose a word.

Mostly I haven’t found choosing a word to be very helpful.

Now I wonder if that is because I was too much in my head. After letting go and deciding not to choose a word for 2016, a little word chose me: MAGIC.

Perhaps that sounds silly – and quite honestly, I don’t know if I would believe it really if it hadn’t happened to me. How does a word choose you? In my case, a few nudges from the universe and I realised I already had a guiding word, despite not wanting to choose one.

chose me 2

I named the free course I created right at the end of 2015 the Magical 2016 Yearbook. I don’t know why – it just came to me and sounded quite cool. I honestly didn’t give it a lot of thought.

I named the course before I put most of the content together, but as I created each lesson I came to realise just how magical the process is – especially the visioning section. If you read lesson 8 you’ll see what I mean – the images I used in my own visioning and the things I managed to manifest last year just show you how magical it can be.

The day before new year’s eve I felt pulled to go to one of my favourite spiritual stores in the local town near our beach house (we went down to the beach house for summer – don’t forget I’m in New Zealand). When I got there I found a deck of oracle cards I’ve been wanting for ages and also came across another deck of oracle cards I’d never seen before (but which totally spoke to me). I grabbed both and headed home.

In truth, I don’t totally know how to use oracle cards. Sometimes if I’m feeling conflicted I might ask them for guidance. Other times I pull one for direction on a project. But otherwise they sit on my shelf as gorgeous little packages I don’t often touch.

But I took my two new packs of oracle cards back to the beach house and didn’t think much of it again.

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A couple of days later, I got up to watch the sunrise on new year’s day on the beach – I saw it as symbolic of starting the year afresh. It was quite windy and cloudy. I was tired after a late night of seeing in the new year, and I spent a good 10 minutes debating whether or not to even go down to the beach or just crawl back into bed. Eventually I pulled on my jacket and stepped out into the wind to greet the new year.

I found a spot on the sand and settled in. After sitting for a few moments, watching the world slowly wake up around me, I noticed a necklace hanging on a small wooden post nearby. It was a single piece of rose quartz on a black cord. Rose quartz has always been ‘my stone’ – it has always resonated with me, so much so that when my fiance proposed he got me a custom made engagement ring with rose quartz in the center.

At first when I noticed the necklace I was reluctant to take it, but my intuition told me it was ok. I felt like it was a gift to me, for the new year, from the universe. It was so odd – out of the whole beach, of all the places I could have chosen to sit down… there I sat, and there was the necklace. The beach was totally abandoned. I took the necklace and slipped it into my jacket pocket.

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When I got home, my conscience kept bugging me. What if someone was looking for the it? It wasn’t expensive by any means, but I didn’t want to take it from someone who cherished it. I pulled some oracle cards from one of my new decks for guidance and the answer was clear. The cards assured me that it was ok to trust my intuition and that the necklace was a gift for me. Later that day a violent storm began, which lasted for several days after. No one would have gone to the beach. I’m certain the necklace would have been lost in that time if I’d left it on the beach. It was meant for me to take on that windy morning.

It was a strange and magical start to the new year. I’ve worn the necklace everyday since and will continue to wear it for the year as a reminder to trust my intuition, and to accept the gifts offered to me from the universe.

Shortly after returning home from my little holiday, I received an email to let me know Susannah Conway is about to launch a new course called Daily Guidance. In this class she teaches how she uses oracle and tarot cards in her daily life. I took this as another sign from the universe and signed up right away.

Slowly the word ‘magic’ began to crystallize in my mind. As I settled into an afternoon of vision boarding for a new space above my desk, the word kept jumping out at me from magazines. I noticed posts about magic in my Facebook feed and I reflected on my finding the necklace on the beach in my journal. I didn’t want a guiding word for the year, but one seemed to be staring me right in the face: MAGIC.

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And so it is. Little nudges here and there from the universe to embrace magic in my life in 2016. In hindsight, there was some great magic for me in 2015, so now that I’m consciously opening to it and cultivating it I’m excited to see what 2016 will bring.

Have you chosen a guiding word for 2016, or has one chosen you? Share in the comments below.

Creativity

Creativity: lover on the side or lover in the center?

In Page after Page, Heather Sellers asks, ‘Is your writing life going to be a lover in the center of your life? The thing you pulse toward, the fever in your soul? Or is your writing life more of a casual crush, something you think about, but don’t do much about?’

I would ask you the same thing, but about all creative pursuits – whatever sets your heart on fire. Is it a lover at the center of your life?

For me, it’s creative journaling… and a bunch of other creative interests I have difficulty categorising:

  • Painting
  • Writing fiction
  • Creating found poetry
  • Creating inspiration cards
  • Blogging
  • Typography/handwriting
  • Collage and mixed media
  • Visioning journals
  • Crafting – using stamps and washi tape and stickers…

These are the things I ‘pulse toward’. These are lovers at the center of my life. How do I know? Well, it’s much like a love affair:

  • I can’t focus on my job.
  • I don’t want to make plans in case I can spend that time with my ‘lover’.
  • I need to see my lover each day.
  • I feel complete with my lover, like I don’t know how I lived before.
  • I get a rush of excitement at the thought of spending time alone with my lover.
  • Instead of checking my phone for texts, I’m checking my instagram and browsing blogs for inspiration.

Sometimes, the feeling is almost too much to bear. I want to spend every spare minute with my lover, but other things get in the way. Work gets in the way. Housework gets in the way. I’m tired after a day of taking care of others. We try to steal moments together, but it never feels like it’s enough.

I wish I had a solution to offer here. But I don’t. All I can say is that this feeling is so delicious, so exquisite; I have to keep following it. Nothing sets me alight like it. Even though I can’t spend all the time in the world with my lover, I know we are meant to be together. I need to just keep following my heart.

What is the lover at the center of your life?

Creativity

Join me in a year of journaling dangerously!

At the beginning of last year I was not in a good place. I was unhappy with my life and felt like something was really missing, although I couldn’t put my finger on what it was at the time.

On a whim, I enrolled in a journaling course. A friend of mine was doing it too, and we both fell in love with everything journaling.

After the course I continued to journal every day, and found my life turning around in unexpected ways. I no longer felt on the verge of tears for no reason every day. Instead, I wrote and poured my heart out on the page. I tuned into my own source of inner guidance and found out what my soul was really calling out for.

I tapped into a wellspring of creativity within that I didn’t even know existed. I kept up my daily journal writing, and began to blog, paint, collage, carve stamps… and my creativity blossomed. I felt constantly inspired to create, and I found courage inside me to try new things and share them with others.

For about a year after taking the journaling course that started it all, I was riding the inspiration high. Sure, I still had dark days and moments where I just wanted to crawl back into bed – but most days I turned to my journal for comfort and inspiration.

Notice there that I say ‘most days’. It’s easy when things start to feel good to let habits slide. It’s easy to relax into the things that bring pleasure without challenging yourself to move forward. And that is what happened to me: over a year later and my lovely daily journaling habit has slipped away. I check in with my journal a few days a week, but the joy and inspiration is short-lived, and fades quickly.

I know that the best way to tap into inspiration and courage is through my journal. And I know that these things come through a regular creative practice.

That’s why I’m launching my new project: a year of journaling dangerously!

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Simply put, I’m going to journal in some form every day for a whole year and I invite you to join me.

Some of you may remember that Journal Wild started out as Journaling Dangerously. Even though the blog has gone through some changes, the idea of journaling dangerously has never left me.

I see it as committing to showing up to the page every single day, even if all I do that day is write the date or swipe some paint on the paper. It is the act of showing up that makes it worthwhile.

So I send out an open invitation for anyone who wants to join me: all you have to do is show up to the page in whatever way you want, every day for a year.

Creativity

Feeling uninspired? Try the creativity switch

I’m in a wee bit of a creativity rut. Despite journaling every day, blogging every day and planning a creative business, I’m still feeling a bit uninspired.

I’m not sure why this is. But my partner told me about something interesting today: the ‘creativity switch’*.

Apparently, the idea is that when we get stuck in routines in our daily lives, we can also get stuck in a creativity rut. When we get up each day and go through the same motions in our lives, we start to coast without needing to think too much. We aren’t stimulated.

This is bad news for creativity.

But the solution is supposed to be simple: mix it up! Change things in your life – in a simple way. Switch things around.

For example, if you usually get up and take a shower and then have breakfast, do this the other way around. Or shower in the evening instead. Drive a slightly different way to work. Go to a different cafe to get your coffee.

By changing the order or the way in which we do things, we force ourselves to pay a bit more attention and notice things. This creates the chance for novelty and creativity.

You could also switch up your journaling. You could journal at a different time of day, or in a different spot. You could try a different pen, drink a different tea while journaling, or listen to different music. You could bring a new ritual into your journaling – perhaps light a candle or draw a tarot card, if you’re so inclined.

The change doesn’t have to be huge – just enough to make you notice.

Here’s a few things I’m thinking of changing:

  • The way I drive to work: taking a different route and seeing different scenery will be more interesting, I won’t have to sit in the same traffic, and I can spend more time singing in the car. Win!
  • New music: this always inspires me. An hour or so exploring on Spotify and I have a whole new playlist.
  • Journaling in different places: I’ve already mentioned how I’ve taken to journaling in my car, and that offers me the luxury of picking a different location and view each time.
  • Walking my pup in different neighbourhoods or different streets.
  • Trying different types of journaling in the morning: rather than just writing, I’m thinking of bringing drawing and watercolour into my morning journaling routine.

What tiny change could you make to get you paying attention again? How can you make a small switch in your routine to inspire you and reignite your creativity? Post your changes in the comments below.

*Note: full credit for this idea of the ‘creativity switch’ goes to Jay Abrahams.

Creativity

Journal prompts: Travel

As much as I love being at home, I can’t get enough of the world.

Travel ignites a fire inside me that burns for years after a trip. There’s something about being somewhere new, somewhere different, somewhere I’ve only visited in my dreams that just feels magical. It feels like I’m in a dream, only it’s real.

When I first stepped out onto the travel lessonstreets of Manhattan, or had my first bite of real French pastry, or walked through the falling snow in Chicago, or got lost in the winding alleyways of Venice, or stood underneath Michelangelo’s David in Florence… those are moments I will never forget. Those are moments I changed, because those are moments I felt my dreams come to life.

There’s something about being out in the world – and let me remind you, I’m from New Zealand which is pretty tucked away from everyone else – that makes me feel like I’m participating in life. I feel like I’m part of it all, on the world’s stage.

And not only that; seeing things I have long seen on television, in books, in films, online, well that just makes it all the more magical. To stand in Times Square, in Westminster Abbey, under the Burj Khalifa or in the middle of Yosemite reminds me of my place in the world. I’m reminded of all the people who came before and who will come after. I’m reminded that we are part of one whole, one global family – that I am never really alone.

You meet the most fascinating people when you travel – people who live in the area, other tourists, or people who literally live down the road from you back home who you just happen to run into in a hostel in Florence… We are all, in some way, connected. There’s nothing quite like running into another Kiwi in the middle of a foreign country.

imageI love the history – I’m in love with art history, and just history in general, and I soak up all the stories of people who came before, how they lived, what they valued. For me, the world is like a giant classroom. I can’t get enough.

And as a creative, someone who always has stories burning inside them, I find that travel is the ultimate fuel for the creative fire. I come home bursting with ideas, full of new material. It’s like every time I travel I connect with another part of myself, fill the well a little more. It inspires me in ways that nothing else can.

To be able to step out of a humid New Zealand summer and land, a day later, in the blistering cold of New York winter, well that is the stuff of fairy tales if you ask me. Travel is magic.

And then, when I’m full up with the sights and sounds of another country, when I’ve attempted the language and my memory cards are full of photos, when I’ve filled my suitcase to the brim with gorgeous leather goods from Italy and every other possible souvenir, when I’m happy and exhausted – going home is the most wonderful feeling. I find a new appreciation for my bed, my shower, and every little detail of my home. I fall back in love with where I live.

I don’t travel as often as I’d like. In imagemy ideal future life – the one where I’m running creative workshops and retreats all over the world – I’ll be going on major international trips every year. At the moment, my last trip (to Europe and North America) was two and a half years ago, which feels like a lifetime. My goal is to go on another big trip next year. In the mean time, I’m using journaling as a way to travel within. It’s not quite the same, but it’s the next best thing.

The other thing I like to do is to do local travelling – visiting new places nearby. It can be as simple as exploring the next town over, or even driving for a few hours to somewhere new. Travel doesn’t have to be a major overseas adventure. I think just getting some new scenery can be enough to get inspired, even if it’s not far from home. Don’t discount the benefits of travelling somewhere locally if you can’t afford a big trip.

>>> Prompt:

How do you feel about travel? I know some people who could do it forever, and others who haven’t left the country and couldn’t care less. What does it mean to you?

Describe a memorable trip you have taken, in as much detail as possible.

Describe your ideal trip, in as much detail as possible.

Now consider, why haven’t you taken it yet? No time? No money? No one to watch the kids? These are all obstacles that can be overcome. You might find that you consider travel to be an indulgence or a luxury that isn’t a priority. Explore your beliefs around travel, and make a plan to make your dream trip a reality, even if it isn’t for five years.

Make a list of every place you want to visit.

Bonus fun prompt: create a travel vision board to inspire you for your next trip – even if you’re not sure how you will make it happen. Gather up travel brochures and images and place it somewhere you will see it often. Trust that it will come about, in the right time.

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: Sensitivity is a gift

I don’t really know how to say this without sounding dramatic, but it is the truth: all my life I have felt different from others. Even though I’ve always had friends and been part of a group of some sort, I’ve never fully felt the same as everyone else.

I noticed in high school that other people just seemed to ‘get on with life’ while I struggled with some of the most basic things – I would feel easily depressed after watching a movie, on a high and inspired for days from the words of a song, or I would take a comment or a joke to heart.

While other friends seemed to easily bounce back from breakups and bad grades, I would retreat to my room to let feelings of misery sweep over me. Not to mention I was easily overwhelmed and exhausted by life in general and spent a lot of time sleeping to recover. When I wasn’t sleeping I was writing, drawing or playing guitar.

I was told I took things too seriously and needed to lighten up. I was told I was too sensitive.

While I certainly knew that sensitivityadolescence is supposed to be a tumultuous time, I was also aware that I seemed to be having some issues that others around me weren’t. For years, I just assumed I was somehow defective. I learned to try and hide my sensitivity around certain people.

It wasn’t until recently, in the past couple of years, that I came across the term ‘highly sensitive person’ (HSP). This opened up an entirely new world for me. I wasn’t defective, I was just one of the 20% of the population who was easily overwhelmed and more aware of the subtleties of my environment than others.

For HSPs, the brain works a little differently: they are more likely to observe before acting. It is an innate trait that is often found in other species too – such as birds, fish, dogs, cats, horses and other animals.

Learning more about this trait also gave me answers in other areas of my life – why I am more likely to feel the cold, struggle to pay attention with a lot of loud noise around me, get easily overwhelmed when I have a lot to do in a short period of time, why I am easily moved by films, books, music etc. This trait also explains why I can’t watch really violent or upsetting films, and this also includes watching the news. Yes, I deliberately avoid the news because it upsets me too much.

But aside from these difficulties, I’ve learnt how wonderful it is, for me at least, to be a highly sensitive person.

  • I easily feel love, empathy and compassion other human beings, not to mention animals. While this can be draining at times, I think it is one of the best ways for us to function on this planet. Of course I get mad and impatient, I get bitchy at times. But for the most part, I feel a strong sense of compassion towards others.
  • I have a rich inner life. I experience emotions strongly, which again has its downside, but it means that I get to experience the most intense and fulfilling positive emotions. I get to be overcome with gratitude and joy, struck by awe or filled with inspiration. I get to look at my loved ones and feel myself full-to-bursting with love. And when I do have to deal with the intensity of negative emotions, they always lead to personal growth, and often give birth to new creative ideas.
  • I am a very creative person. Not only do I experience strong emotions, but I have a vivid imagination and big hopes and dreams. I allow myself to spend time in my own inner dream worlds and I often turn them into art or writing. Having a rich inner life allows me to be the creative person that I am, creating and expressing myself in ways that I can hopefully use to inspire others.
  • I can’t hide who I am. I am an open book and don’t do well at covering up how I am really feeling (I could never play a serious game of poker!). While this may seem like a bad thing, I’ve found it helps me to remain authentic. It helps me to stay ‘me’; to be honest. I don’t find myself playing lots of different roles or putting on different masks. It also means that I can’t stay in situations that make me unhappy for very long, which can only be a good thing.
  • I’m very observant. I often notice details and specifics about my environment, other people or situations. I remember things clearly and this has been very helpful in many situations. As well as getting easily overwhelmed by the environment, I am also easily inspired.

These are just a few of the things that make me feel blessed to be HSP. It certainly comes with challenges, but I wouldn’t be anyone else but me.

>>> Prompts:

What does the word ‘sensitivity’ mean to you? Does it have negative associations? Why?

In what ways do you see being sensitive as problematic? How can you reframe this view?

List as many ways you can think of that being more sensitive than others is a gift.

In what ways can you honour your sensitivity more?

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.