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?


Journal prompt: Oracle card

Recently Kelly talked about using an oracle card to guide her through each month. I thought it could make an interesting journal prompt.

oracle cardsTake an oracle deck of cards (or use an online deck). You could either focus on a particular question or issue before drawing a card, or you could just draw one at random and see how the message can apply to your situation.

Use this as a starting point for a journal entry. Write the card and some of the key meanings down in your journal, then do some free writing around this. Every time I do this I am surprised to uncover something new.

The deck pictured here is the Gaia Oracle by Toni Carmine Salerno. I chose it mainly because of the gorgeous artwork!


What Inspires Me

Weekly inspiration

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

nz xmas flower

Loving these gorgeous stamps and going to try carving some of my own

This brilliant post on how to archive your journals – I am so going to do this!

I’ve already signed up for Lifebook 2015, and I’m also thinking about signing up for The Documented Life Project (it’s free!)

This interesting article (based on the work of James Pennebaker) about how writing about the things that upset us can be healing

An interesting perspective on the reasons not to do morning pages

Really loving these tips on how to deal with feeling a bit creatively stuck

>>> From me: I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, spend some time with your loved ones, and take some time out with your journal to reflect on the things you are most grateful for. Try not to let the Christmas madness overwhelm you!



Journaling: Traveling within

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about travel. I love traveling.

There’s something so inspiring about seeing new places and cultures, being out of your ordinary routine and, sometimes, out of your comfort zone.

exploreWhenever I travel, I learn so much about myself simply from being in new environments and out of my normal realm. In fact, there’s this fantastic quote by Danny Kaye:

To travel is to take a journey into yourself.

This is so very true. When I explored Europe and parts of North America last year, I returned to my home country of little old New Zealand as a different person. I had a stronger sense of who I was, a greater confidence in myself, and I was bursting at the seams with inspiration and creative ideas.

Looking back on my travel journal, I can see the growth I experienced as I ventured out into the big wide world. Once back home though, it wasn’t long before my feet were itching to get back on a plane and off to a new location.

Unfortunately, traveling far and wide as often as we might like is not always possible. But do we need to? Rilke said,

The only journey is the one within.

I can’t help but wonder if that is true. As much as I love seeing new places and exploring the world, the things that are most truly valuable for me from traveling are the lessons I learn about myself, the growth I experience and the inspiration that fills me.

traveling within

What if I could capture even a fraction of that, without stepping foot in an airport?

That is exactly what journaling gives me. Now – let’s be honest – it doesn’t give me quite the same rush of excitement as boarding a plane and landing somewhere new, but it does allow me to journey inwards and learn more about myself.

discover yourselfI was recently asked to describe myself, and found myself saying I am an ‘intrepid explorer of the wild within’. And you know what? I am.

There exists inside us a wild and undiscovered realm, an untouched landscape, a history waiting to be explored. We have within us whole worlds, both new and familiar. We are rich and layered beings with stories of our own to share. There is so much to be explored when we journey within.

I find that every day when I sit down to journal, I venture further into myself. I don’t always like what I find and I don’t always unearth treasures. If I get stuck I use journal prompts or switch over to my art journal. But I keep exploring and learning, and that is what’s important. Because, at the end of the day, the main reason I venture out into the world is, really, to venture into myself.

And that should keep me happy until I can next board a plane.

How does your journaling help you venture within?

What Inspires Me

Sunday gratitude

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

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

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

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

It has been lovely.

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

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

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

What are you most grateful for this week?

What Inspires Me

Weekly inspiration

Each week I share a few of the pages and posts that have inspired me the most… lame rhyme intended! Feel free to share anything that has inspired you in the comments.


I came across this really cool course that runs throughout all of 2015 and I think I might do it!

I know I often share posts from Courtney’s page, but that’s because she inspires me so much! I loved this post about how to get up early and make the most of your mornings

This gorgeous poem by Cynthia made me smile and think more about my own big dreams

I love this practice of Jessica’s to write out ten things you accomplish each day in order to remind yourself of what you’ve achieved, no matter how small

As a washi tape addict I really enjoyed the eye candy in this post! Be sure to click on the links inside the post to see more gorgeous pics. Just when I thought my washi tape collection was complete… I think I feel a tape spend coming on!


Back from a weekend break: Art journal peeks

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

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

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

All in all, a very healing weekend.

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

altered book 03

altered book 05

altered book 06

altered book 04

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

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

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

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


Back to basics

I’m not someone who does things by halves. If I become interested in something new, I don’t tend to just dip my toe in. I dive straight into the deep end, head-first. I buy all the books, sign up for all the courses, join all the groups.

Journaling is no exception.

In the past six months I must have bought at least 10 journaling books, signed up for at least 5 online courses, not including the free ones, and of course started a blog on all things journaling.

Then I jumped on the art journaling bandwagon. written-journalingI gathered as many supplies as I could, got the books, joined the courses. I have at least 4 art journals on the go right now.

In fact, I got so into creative journaling and art journaling that I drifted away from my roots – written journaling. The thing that I’ve been doing for years – the thing that started it all.

I got so inspired by art journalers and their magic that I all but abandoned my written journaling in order to play with colour and images.

But I miss just using my words.

I’m a writer, at my core. This new foray into the world of art journaling is fascinating, and exciting, and is challenging my preconceived ideas of who I am. Apparently I have an artistic side! How very exciting.

But I do miss just writing, for hours, letting the words pour out of me onto the page: not fussing with washi tape or gesso or colours or stamps.

I began with words, and I will always return to words.

Art journaling has its place – I love playing with colour and stamps and collage and just having fun. But sometimes I just need to go ‘blah’ and do a brain dump onto the page: get all the tangled thoughts out so I can see them, rather than have them swirling in my head.

So despite the fact that I declared I would stick to just two journals (who was I kidding?) I have now started a new journal. This journal is lined, so I’m not tempted to start getting art-farty in there (besides the occasional stamp or sticker…). Instead, the focus is just getting my thoughts down onto the page.

A return to where I began: written journaling. Going back to basics.


Give yourself creative permission

A while ago I took the Layers of Life Visual Journal workshop and one of the first things we were told to do in our journal was to give ourselves permission.

I love this and I think it’s something we don’t do enough of.

It might seem a bit unnecessary, maybe. You think, well of course I have permission to write in my journal, duh.

But have you given yourself permission to do all the things you want to do? To make a mess, to make mistakes, to cross things out and start again, to look foolish, to try new things, to dream of a better life – even start to take steps towards it?

Your journal can be a powerful tool if you give yourself permission to just be, however you want, inside it.

I’ve mentioned ad nauseam about my perfectionism, so for me giving myself permission to make a mess is a big deal. So many times I’ve started a journal and it’s not until halfway through that I’ve realised that I’m too afraid to make a mistake or do anything that risks not being pretty!

Not to mention I seem to unconsciously give myself rules each time I start a new journal – what I
can and cannot journal about in that journal, what type of journaling it will be, etc.

How freeing (and admittedly a little scary) it is to declare in the front of my journal that it can be for any damn thing I want it to be: writing, painting, stamping, collage, washi tape, watercolours, scribbles, stencils, sketches, doodles, prompts, stream-of-consciousness, lists, mindmaps, nonsense, ideas, dreams etc. WHATEVER!

So I urge you the next time you start a new journal – or heck, even in the middle of your journal right now – to dedicate a page to giving yourself permission.You could list the things you want to do, collage images, draw – whatever feels good and best represents the creative freedom you need.

Give yourself permission to do whatever feels good in your journal – in fact, in your life – whatever you need.


The problem of too many journals

For those of you that haven’t guessed it already, journaling is my ‘thing’. It’s the perfect combination of my training in writing, life coaching, psychology and teaching.

But sometimes I get a bit uptight about my journals.

I have so many now that I’ve lost count (yes, I really need to update the ‘how I journal’ page). I have three art journals, one for Journal 52, one for the 30 Day Journal Project (which I’m way behind in, but I’ve saved the prompts for later) and another one which is an altered book. I have a written Moleskine journal, a creative dream journal, a blog journal and a business journal. I’m pretty sure that’s all my journals…

My passion for journaling and my all-or-nothing personality has meant that my journaling has expanded in so many different ways and in so many different directions.

Which is a glorious thing, really. I love having all these different avenues of creativity, these different ways of exploring and expressing myself.


Sometimes it feels a bit much. I want to journal but I’m not always sure which journal to pick up and use. I get confused about which online course I’m doing (I’m onto my fourth journal course in as many months and I’m not keeping up with them!). I have so many journal books and prompts that I’ve not finished reading a single one. I have at least 5 blank journals on my desk waiting to be used but devoid of purpose. I dip in and out of each current journal as I feel like it, but I feel like my focus is a bit split.


I’m currently taking the Layers of Life Visual Journal workshop. I’m totally crushing on the work of Nichole Rae, Lisa Sonora and Hope Wallace and trying to infuse their styles into my journaling. I want to focus my energies on finding my own journaling style using collage, paint, stamps, stickers, washi tape and my own lettering. I want to combine my visual journaling with my written journaling so that I can have one main journal to work in, and then one other journal for painting and heavier media.

In the planner/Filofax community they have these monthly challenges where they stick to one book for a whole month. People, like me, who love notebooks and planners and journals and just get too carried away.

I’m wondering if it might be a good idea to do something similar: to limit myself to my two favourite journals at the moment and work only within them.

This will mean overcoming my self-imposed ‘rules’ of which journal can be used for what.

And I guess, since the next two weeks at work I’m what-do-i-want-from-my-journalinggoing to be so busy I won’t have much time for anything, that makes sense. Any time I get for journaling will have to be focused. I won’t have time to be going back through my online courses, so I won’t need to be switching between journals.

So here’s what I’m thinking: an experiment, for the next two weeks to only use my main Moleskine journal and my altered book. I think I need both because the Moleskine can’t really take paint, and I need a place to paint, so the altered book is good for that. And the Moleskine (which is a sketchbook, for the slightly thicker paper) can be used for my daily writing, collage, doodles and anything else that takes my fancy.

That is my small challenge for myself. To limit myself so that I might find some sort of creative freedom.

Does anyone else have the problem of too many journals? What journals do you have and how do you use them?