Creativity, Self Empowerment

Journal prompts: Making yourself happy

This has taken me years to learn, and even now I need to keep reminding myself of this truth:

It is my job, and mine alone, to make myself happy.

lesson 16It is not my partner’s job to make me happy. It is not up to my friends to make me happy. It is not my family’s job to make me happy.

Of course, that’s not to say that these things can’t make me happy – they certainly do!

But ultimately, it is up to me to make myself happy – it is my job to fill myself up.

That means, when I’m feeling crappy, the first thing I need to do is check in with myself. I need to know what my core needs are, and I need to check that they are being filled – and here’s the hard part – by me.

Some of my core needs are:

  • Love
  • Security
  • Solitude
  • Freedom
  • Creativity
  • Self-expression
  • Inspiration
  • Contribution

How do I know my core needs? Because I’ve taken the time out to think about these things, to work out what really fills me up. If I’m not aware of the things I need in my life to be happy, then I can’t make sure I’m happy.

If I’m feeling crappy in my life, most of the time it’s because I’m not meeting my own core needs. It’s not fair for me to pass the expectation onto my partner or friends to make me feel better, when I’m not doing that for myself.

There’s something really empowering about being able to fill yourself up. It doesn’t mean you can’t accept help or anything from others, but it means you don’t need it. It totally changes the nature of a relationship when you come to it already satisfied with your life. You have a lot more to offer others.

>>> Prompts:

What are your core needs? Start by making a list of all the things you like to do, the things that fill you up, big or small. Then, try to identify the core needs underneath. Usually it will be stated as an abstract noun.

In what ways do you rely on others to make you happy?

How can you do more to fill yourself up and meet your core needs?

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

Journal prompts: Try something new

There are so many things I want to do: write books, sell artwork, travel more, meet certain people, learn a new language or two, record an album, learn to sew, knit and crochet… among other things.

The thing is, often when I think of the things I want to do, I can’t help but wish I’d started earlier. Or worse – I feel like it’s probably a bit too late to start at all.

Well, that’s nonsense.

Sometimes I think we talk ourselves out of starting something new because it seems like it will take X many years until we are good at this new thing, and by that stage we will be X years old, and that’s just too old.

Well, I have news for you: you arenot too late still going to reach that age, whether you try the new thing or not.

You can think of it like this – at that age, you can still be in the same position you are in now, with the desire to try the new thing, or you can be that age with a new skill or experience under your belt.

Because either way, you will reach that age. The years will still pass. It’s up to you what you do in the meantime.

>>> Prompts:

What have you always wanted to try but never done? Write as many things as you can think of, big or small.

For each one, why haven’t you done it?

When will you do it? See if you can ‘schedule’ it in somehow in your life either now or in the future.

Imagine your life 5 or 10 years from now. Imagine you haven’t done any of the things on your list. Write about how that would feel.

Now, imagine your life 5 or 10 years from now. Imagine you’ve done the things that are most important to you on your list. Write about how that would feel.

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

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.

What Inspires Me

Weekly inspiration

Each week I share the posts and blogs I have found most inspiring. I hope you find them inspiring too.

sky

Loved this post about the ‘selfie vulnerability hangover’

As I’m heading away for a couple of days and can only take a few of my favourite supplies, it’s good to see that it doesn’t take much to create an interesting art journal spread

30 Days of Collage sounds delicious!

I absolutely devoured this post that lets us peek inside Akiyo’s journals!

I bought a cheap set of beautiful playing cards and can’t wait to do this

Have an inspired week!

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 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!

What Inspires Me

Weekly inspiration

Each week I share the links I have found most inspiring. Feel free to share what has inspired you this week in the comments below.

nature

As someone who is deliberately trying to slow down my life, this post about busyness really spoke to me

What do you ache for?

Love this gorgeous light journal by Hope

A great journal prompt about where you are directing your energy

I LOVE this video which discusses something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately – the difference between art journaling and visual journaling

Have an inspired week!

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.

I’m a little late to the party this week (it’s Thursday night here in New Zealand!) but I figured better late than never.

This is a page I did while relaxing in bed, watching a movie. I’ve been feeling super tired lately, but I’m still really wanting to create.

Because I have a lovely white bed spread I was worried about ruining, I didn’t take my paints with me. I chose to use the Neocolors water colour crayons, pens, my stamps, and some oil pastels. I didn’t want to have water, so I used baby wipes to activate the water colour crayons, which worked really well and created an interesting effect.

It was a good chance for me to play in new ways, by limiting my supplies.

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What Inspires Me

Weekly inspiration

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

journal cushion

Loved this post by Liz about imperfect self care

How to create through the rough times

These 15 questions to discover your personal mission would make great journaling prompts

I am flattered to be included in Erica’s journaling links at The Nerd Journals along with lots of other awesome links (and check out Erica’s blog where she shares reviews, journal flip-throughs and other journal goodness!)

This makes me want to create my own sacred outdoor space to journal

Have an inspired week!