Creativity, Self Empowerment

Journal prompts: Home

I’m a real homebody. I love winter time, because it’s the perfect excuse to stay in, wrapped up warm and cosy.

I think it’s important that we make our home a safe and comfortable space, especially if we spend a lot of time there.

This is particularly important for people like me – HSPs and introverts. We need a safe space to retreat after being out in the world. We need a place to feel that we can just relax and be ourselves, a place where we are inspired and our creativity is nurtured, and a place to be safe.

For me, the feel of my environment home 3is important. At home, I want it to feel inviting, warm, inspiring, cosy, light, safe and comfortable.

A lot of this comes down to the way the place looks, including the colours, images, light, and arrangement of the furniture. I’m careful to include images on my wall that make me smile or think. I use colours that lift me up and also colours that soothe. I keep the place tidy and have objects on display that inspire me.

Besides my desk, where I do most of my creative work, my bed is my favourite place. It has to be just the right level of comfort – it’s a little like Goldilocks – not too hard and not too soft. I have a lovely duck down duvet (or ‘comforter’ for my North American friends), big pillows and a beautiful bedspread cover. I have extra blankets for winter and hot water bottles.

Some people see the kitchen as the hub of the home, a place to entertain guests, the most important part of the house. For me, the bed is the symbol for a cosy house. As a highly sensitive person, I need to know that I have somewhere warm, safe and delicious that I can go when the world becomes too much. The bed symbolises rest and renewal, safety and security.

This way, when I am out in the world dealing with stress at work, traffic jams, difficult people, bad weather or just a plain bad mood, I know that I have my wonderful haven to come back to – my home – and things seem a little more manageable.

>>> Prompts:

What does ‘home’ mean to you? What do you associate with the word?

What do you love about your home?

What would you like to change about your home?

Describe your ideal home. Include the way it looks, sounds, smells and feels.

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.

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Creativity, Self Empowerment

Journal prompts: It’s ok to say no

This has taken me years to learn. I must say that I’ve had a little help in getting there faster with some words of wisdom from Brené Brown:

Choose discomfort over resentment.

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before. It’s become my personal mantra to ensure I don’t over-commit myself. As an introvert and HSP I need lots of downtime, lots of alone time. This entails saying no to people.

Basically what Brené means is to choose the discomfort of saying no to someone at the time, rather than committing to something you would rather not do/don’t have time for and resenting it later.

This makes perfect sense, but in reality it can actually be pretty hard to do.

The more I have learnt about who I am and what makes me tick, the more I have come to see how important it is for me to honour my needs. This means saying no to people sometimes, even if it disappoints them. At the end of the day, I find that this statement (attributed to Dr. Seuss) is so true:

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

Saying no means offending or usay nopsetting some people, but I think that is ok. Those closest to me know I need a lot of time alone and if I say no to them they are usually pretty understanding. They know that is part of who I am. The more that people get angry at me for not committing to doing what they want me to do, the more I feel like they don’t understand or appreciate who I am, and potentially don’t matter as much.

Is this a harsh way to approach life? Maybe. But I think it is so essential that we look after ourselves and meet our own needs, because most often others aren’t going to do it. Besides, it’s my life and I get to choose how I spend my time. I want to do the things that make me happy, not just what makes others happy.

It might sound selfish, but I think of it as the whole oxygen mask thing – we need to look after ourselves first so that we are better help to other people. It’s an act of self care. I have more to offer others if I’m looking after myself properly, than if I’m rushing around trying to make everyone else happy.

>>> Prompts:

How often do you find yourself saying yes to people when you would rather say no? Write about why you think you do this.

What are the consequences of saying yes when you would rather say no?

What are some small ways you could start saying no to people, when it feels right to you?

How might your life feel different if you honour yourself and say no when you want to?

Write/print out the saying ‘choose discomfort over resentment’ and put it somewhere you will see it often.

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: Know yourself

The practice of journaling regularly has allowed me to get to know myself in ways unimaginable.

There’s something about the process of writing our thoughts, dreams and fears out onto the page, getting them outside of ourselves and having them there for us to look at, that enables us to better connect with and understand ourselves.

My journal is a mirror I hold up to myself, reflecting back my deepest values, highlighting my darkest fears and loftiest dreams, showing me who I am.

Through this process I have gained greater clarity about myself, about things I never knew before; I’m a highly sensitive person, an introvert, I often let resistance and fear stop me from doing things but paradoxically I also believe that anything is possible.

lesson 7When I began my journaling journey, I didn’t set out to ‘get to know myself better’, it just sort of happened along the way. And while I’m sure there are other ways of getting to know yourself and how you tick, I have found journaling to be the most invaluable tool to do so.

It’s like an ongoing therapy session with myself that I always have a record of to reread. Patterns and cycles become clear, images, symbols and words are repeated, certain themes emerge.

And by seeing myself on the page, I start to become a character in a bigger story, distinct from myself. I find this allows me to learn about ‘this person’ with compassion and acceptance, without judgement.

In short, journaling has deepened my relationship with myself. I can now listen to that small, quiet voice inside – the one that accepts me as I am and comforts me when the world is too harsh, that tells me when something feels off, when I need to rest more, when I need more self-love.

In fact, the small voice inside has gotten louder and louder. I now no longer look at my life and wonder why things are happening the way they are happening. Because I have a deeper sense of who I am, because I know myself and why I think and behave the way I do, I have a greater sense of purpose and control over my life. I find myself reacting less and acting more purposefully.

This post is a lot more rambly than I intended, so I apologise if you’ve struggled to follow my train of thought!

>>> Prompts:

How well do you think you know yourself?

What practices do you engage in regularly to maintain a good relationship with yourself? It doesn’t have to just be journaling, it might be painting, meditating, exercise such as yoga or running, seeing a therapist, etc.

What practices would you like to try to create a deeper sense of connection with yourself?

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.

What Inspires Me

Weekly inspiration

Each week I share the blog posts and other bits and pieces that have most inspired me. Feel free to share anything that has inspired you this week in the comments below.

creating a magical life

Jamie Ridler has some great advice for when you feel overwhelmed (something I’m all too familiar with!)

Akiyo at Journaling Sage is posting daily journal prompts – a great way to get into a regular journaling practice

Loving these ideas of how to be alone with your writing and how not to be too alone with your writing – great for striking a balance in your writing life

Totally crushing on Susana’s art right now

Andy shares some great ways for introverts to recharge when feeling drained of social energy

Have you got your free copy of the Journal Wild Self Love Kit yet?

Have an inspired week!

Creativity

Journal prompt: Goodbye 2014, hello new year!

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

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

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

i am so blessed

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

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

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

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

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

>>> Prompt:

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

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

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

Now, think about the year ahead:

hello 2015

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

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

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?