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

Journal prompts: Kindness matters

When we are young, especially as teenagers, it is almost uncool to be kind to others.

Some people seem to never grow out of this. I see it as a sign of immaturity.

But each and every person out there is going through their own stuff. We often don’t know what it is. As Ian Maclaren said,

Be kind – everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Being kind to someone can be the difference between making them feel good or ruining their day. And it doesn’t take any extra energy to be kind – I think it takes more to be nasty!

I believe the more we are kind to others,kindness matters the more others will be kind to us, and the world will be a little nicer. Not only that, but I believe being kind to others can make us feel pretty good too. Try this next time you’re feeling crappy: do some random act of kindness for someone else, a stranger if possible. I guarantee you’ll feel better for it.

Something else I don’t think is talked about enough is being kinder to ourselves. How often do you catch yourself talking to yourself in such a nasty way that you would never speak to others? Not only is kindness to others important, but kindness to ourselves is equally, if not more, so. Treat yourself and speak to yourself as you would to a dear friend.

>>> Prompts:

What does kindness look like to you?

How are you already being kind to others? How can you include more kindness in your day?

How kind are you to yourself? Do you find you are nicer to others than you are to yourself? How can you treat yourself a little better?

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: Money and debt

I guess this is more of a practical topic, a bit different from the others.

But I can’t overstate how much better I feel when I have no debt, and money in the bank.

The more money I save and the less debt I have, the more I feel both secure and free. Secure in the sense that things can be taken care of, that I have more than enough. Free in the sense that I know if I really want to walk out of my job, or buy a plane ticket to somewhere else, I can.

It’s all about peace of mind.

My parents taught me from a young age how debilitating debt can be. Obviously some forms of debt are ok, like a mortgage that is manageable. But having ongoing car repayments, credit card bills, personal loans and so on can be like walking around in shackles. You can’t do much but work to repay the debt. Sometimes it’s necessary, like when your car breaks down and you have no money. But as much as possible, I avoid debt.

I value freedom a great deal. As soon as I feel trapped in some form, I start to feel myself wither.

I also value abundance and fear scarcity, which I think we are taught to do in our culture.

lesson 8It has been a really big deal for me to purchase a property recently, knowing that I am now stuck in one place with ongoing mortgage payments. But the payments are very low and easily manageable, which allows me the freedom to change my job or cut back my hours. Not only that, having my own land provides me with the freedom to build my own art studio and start working from home – something I couldn’t do while renting. So it’s about striking a compromise.

Now I’m focusing on getting more money in the bank to have a cushion of security for the future. Ultimately I’d like to work for myself full time, so each time I put aside a portion of my pay cheque, I know that I’m creating my future.

>>> Prompts:

Take a moment to think about your finances. How do you feel when you think about this? Are you satisfied and happy with your current financial situation?

If you’re not happy with your finances, how would you like things to be different? What can you do to make that happen?

For me, money represents freedom and security. What does money represent for you? It might be the same as me, or it might be luxury, fun, contribution, self-love, generosity, fear, scarcity, abundance, etc. Consider doing an art journal/visual spread about this.

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: Creativity and wellbeing

This post is featured as part of the Journal Chat Live Open House, hosted by Dawn Herring

I have had issues with depression for most of my life.

I’ve tried many different things to deal with this – counselling/psychotherapy, herbal supplements, exercise, medication, changing jobs/houses/partners etc.

However, last year when I began to consistently tap into my creative energy and express myself creatively on a regular basis, I noticed that the feelings of depression that tend to surface quite frequently with me didn’t visit so often.

In fact, if I keep tapping into mcreativity is essential for wellbeingy creativity on a daily basis, as well as doing a few others key things (exercise, rest, play, connecting with loved ones, eating well, etc), I tend to feel pretty damn good most of the time.

With all that other stuff I’m doing, how do I know it’s creativity that’s brought about this change? Because I tried all the other things before, and they didn’t work. At least, not without adding creative self-expression into the mix.

I’ve always been a creative person at heart – drawing, singing, writing since I was little, but once I hit adulthood most of that stuff sort of got forgotten about as I got ‘serious’ about life. Funnily enough, I have also spent a good portion of my adulthood dealing with depression.

I’m not suggesting that creativity is a cure-all for mental illness. But for me, personally, I have found creative self-exression to be essential to my mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. I can’t imagine my life without it now.

From my journal:

Ever since I’ve been exploring my creative side I’m a totally different person. I’m happier and more fulfilled. I feel like I know myself, what makes me happy. I feel a greater connection to the divine, to my own inner resources of strength, courage, wisdom and faith. I know that through developing a creative practice, I have a routine that supports me in daily life.

Creativity comes in many different forms. It doesn’t have to be artistic, it can be anything – cooking, building, the way you organise your furniture, or dress.

I believe that everyone is really a creative person at heart, and those that don’t think they are creative simply haven’t found the kind of creative expression that works for them yet.

>>> Prompt:

What does the word ‘creativity’ mean to you?

In what ways would you consider yourself to be creative?

In what ways would you like to be more creative?

What does creativity bring to your life? Why is it worth making time to be creative?

What are the obstacles to creativity in your life? They might be time, the opinions of others, resistance, fear, money, etc. What could you do to overcome these obstacles?

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: Take action on your dreams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>>> Prompt:take action

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

Now, on another page, answer the following questions:

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

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

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

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

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

Creativity, Self Empowerment

Journal prompts: Nobody expects me to be perfect but me

I think this should be the mantra of every perfectionist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>>> Prompt:

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

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

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

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

Creativity, Self Empowerment

Journal prompts: I am enough

It took me a long time to learn this, but when I sat down to think about what I’ve learned in my 30 years on this planet, this was the first that came to mind.

lesson 1

We are repeatedly told by our culture that we are not enough – not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, funny enough, flawless enough, sophisticated enough, and so on. We are told we don’t do enough, we don’t achieve enough, we don’t help enough, have enough, etc. I could write so many many more examples.

But I realised something, which I noted in my journal:

It doesn’t matter how much I am overweight, how bad my skin is, how many dimples are on my thighs. It doesn’t matter that I’m ‘overly sensitive’ or ‘cry too easily’, that I’m terrible at geography, that I make mistakes, that I get irrationally angry at other drivers and am not doing enough to save the planet. I AM STILL ENOUGH.

You are too. Just as you are, right now. You don’t need to do more, change, improve, acquire more, shrink down or expand. You are enough as you are now.

Accepting yourself as you are now doesn’t mean you aren’t able to change. It doesn’t mean you must stay the way you are. But it means that you can see your inherent value right now, and any changes you do make will come from a place of love.

>>> Prompt:

I found it incredibly liberating to list all the things I tend to judge myself for and then write in bold letters, I AM STILL ENOUGH. Try this in your journal. In what ways do you sometimes thing you aren’t enough? Write them all out, then declare, I AM STILL ENOUGH!

If you realised you were enough, as you are, right now, how would your life be different? What would you do differently?

What are some things you could do each day, to show yourself that you love and accept yourself just as you are, right now?

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.

Self Empowerment, Spirituality

How I deal with doubt

 

image

Sometimes, for some reason, I’ve feel doubt about things in my life.

Not doubts about whether or not I want these things – in fact, I’ve never felt clearer about what I want – but doubts about whether the things I dream of are possible.

I go through periods of believing that anything is possible and that really, we can all have whatever we truly desire.

But then it feels like I spend too much time in the ‘real world’ focused on mundane, day-to-day tasks, and lose that lovely connection to whatever it is that helps me to believe.

What is it that allows me to feel so powerful, to believe that anything is possible?

God? The universe? My higher self? The divine? Some would argue these things are all one and the same.

Whatever it is, it’s like an almost magical part of myself that just knows anything is possible.

It’s not even believing – it’s a stronger sense of knowing.

And it’s a feeling too; a physical feeling in my body that there is so much more to this world than meets the eye, than we could possibly understand. A feeling of something greater that is looking out for each and every one of us, on our own paths.

When I start to experience doubt I know it’s because I’ve lost that sense of connection with the divine – with my highest and wisest self.

For me, doubt occurs when I’ve turned away from my spiritual side to my worldly side.

I know that doubt comes from a place of fear and scarcity. It is from a belief that something cannot happen, that there isn’t enough – whatever enough means: money, time, skills, talent, luck, beauty, love, energy.

This is just a faulty belief that is reinforced by our dominant culture of scarcity and fear. In choosing to turn away from this belief, I can turn back to the knowing I have within.

It sounds simple enough, and really it is. I do know, deep within me, that anything really is possible in this world. It’s a feeling that comes from my heart, or my soul, not my head. It’s when I spend too much time in my head, worrying about money or work, or feeling guilty for not tidying the house or angry about sitting in traffic, that this knowing starts to feel more like a distant memory, a silly dream I once had.

Simply put, I need to spend more time in the knowing and strengthen this connection to the wisdom of the universe.

I need to spend more time trusting, and less time worrying.

When I start to feel doubt creeping in, here are a few of the ways I regain my trust in the process:

Reading spiritual material

This won’t be for everyone, and that’s okay. I’m not a religious person, but I certainly believe there is more to life than we can comprehend. The more I read books that open my mind to the wonder and possibilities of the universe, the more I feel in alignment with my true self. You may choose to read The Bible, or a book about science, or consult a tarot or oracle deck, or refer to the zodiac, or delve into a piece from your favourite spiritual teacher (I love Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay, Eckhart Tolle, The Dalai Lama and many others). I also like to watch documentaries and films that remind me of the wisdom of the universe – documentaries about space always make me feel part of a much larger whole. Whatever makes you feel that expansive feeling of being connected to something bigger. Document any ‘ah-ha’ moments in your journal.

Being in nature

To me, the divine and nature are inseparable. Each and every time I’m in the forest surrounded by trees, or on the beach staring out to sea, or staring up at the stars, I feel connected to something so much larger than me. I marvel at the universe – something so vast and powerful – and can’t help but feel that I too am part of the power. I remind myself that we are all made of stardust, and that really means anything is possible.

Surrounding myself with spiritual artifacts

These are things I keep around myself that, for some reason or other, remind me of the magic of this universe. They remind me that I’m connected to something much bigger than myself – something so much stronger than my fears and doubts. Some of these things include crystals, little Buddha statues, feathers, dreamcatchers, certain images, oracle cards, and shells.

Journaling

I believe journaling has so many different benefits, especially when dealing with doubt. It can allow us to mentally process things and rationalise faulty beliefs, but I think it has a deeper benefit than that. Journaling allows us to tap into our own source of inner wisdom. It allows us to get past the logical mind by dumping things out, then getting below the surface of that. The more I journal about my doubts, the more I continue to come to the conclusion that they are just fear in disguise and the stronger and more faithful I feel. Why does journaling work to dispel doubt? Because we connect to our wisest selves and to the divine on the page.

Yoga and meditation

I’m going to come right out and say I don’t meditate. I want to; I love the idea of it, and it’s supposed to be amazing, but I guess I just haven’t gotten around to it. I like to think that one day it will be part of my daily routine. For now, I use yoga in a similar way. When I’m on the yoga mat (or, in truth, my living room carpet) I slow right down. I feel parts of my body I had forgotten were there. My body feels a sense of relaxation and my mind is at peace. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that yoga is so strongly associated with many spiritual traditions. It allows me to once again feel that connection beyond myself.

Visiting museums and galleries

When I see the artworks and artifacts that other people have created, when I witness the traces of our history and the people that came before, I can’t help but realise that life is magical. I am reminded that I am not alone, that I am part of a large group of people who came before me, people who dared to dream. I am also reminded of the transient nature of life and how important it is to give it all I’ve got, right now.

*  *  *

I know that doubt is a natural part of life and the creative process. I know it will never fully go away, and I guess I don’t really want it to.

Each and every time doubt visits, I am reminded of the importance of my connection to the divine and to my true self. I am reminded to trust in the wisdom of the universe.

Creativity

Journal prompt: My favorite things

Today I want to share a journal prompt from a new journaling book I’ve just bought, Lucia Capacchione’s The Creative Journal. It’s full of great journaling prompts for both written and visual journaling. It also has lots of excerpts from the journals of others. Can’t wait to explore this in more detail.

the-creative-journal-book

I randomly flipped open to this page and just love this prompt! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

>>> Prompt:

Think about all of your favorite things, the objects that are most significant to you. They may be ‘prized possessions’ or associated with satisfying experiences. They may be plants, objects, pets. As you think about these things, ask yourself: What is my favorite thing at the present time in my life?

Close your eyes and visualise your favorite thing. Picture it clearly, seeing its colors, shape, texture, form. Think about its function in your life, how you use it, and what it means to you. Recall how it came into your life, the circumstances of your first encounter with it and how you acquired it (if you own it).

Draw a picture of your favorite thing. Use your memory or look at it while you draw. Relax and take your time. You are not being judged for artistic skill. Rather you are fondly showing you appreciation of your favorite thing by taking the time to study it lovingly and draw it with care.

Now imagine that the object can talk. Imagine what it would say. Let it tell you about itself, what it wants from you, what it wants for you. Write the dialogue out.

Study your drawing and dialogue and then write down your reactions.