Creativity, What Inspires Me

Prompt and poem: Roses, late summer

Today I’m struggling to find my own words, so I once again turn to the wonderful words of Mary Oliver. I only have her New and Selected Poems, but I think I will need to buy more of her poetry collections!

Roses, Late Summer

What happens
to the leaves after
they turn red and golden and fall
away? What happens

to the singing birds
when they can’t sing
any longer? What happens
to their quick wings?

Do you think there is any
personal heaven
for any of us?
Do you think anyone,

the other side of that darkness,
will call to us, meaning us?
Beyond the trees
the foxes keep teaching their children

to live in the valley.
So they never seem to vanish, they are always there
in the blossom of the light
that stands up every morning

in the dark sky.
And over one more set of hills,
along the sea,
the last roses have opened their factories of sweetness

and are giving it back to the world.
If I had another life
I would want to spend it all on some
unstinting happiness.

I would be a fox, or a tree
full of waving branches.
I wouldn’t mind being a rose
in a field full of roses.

Fear has not yet occurred to them, nor ambition.
Reason they have not yet thought of.
Neither do they ask how long they must be roses, and then what.
Or any other foolish question.

Prompt >>>

You might use the poem above as a prompt in your journal – to be answered with words, or with images as you like.

Oliver suggests that roses, foxes and birds – all of nature – just gets on with living without asking questions. She suggests their sense of purpose is innate and they are not distracted from it with ponderings about the world and how it works.

I love the final stanza. If you were to stop being fearful, or ambitious, what would you be doing?

If you were to stop feeling uncertain, to stop asking ‘foolish questions’, what would be your innate purpose?

‘Fear has not yet occurred to them’ – what are you afraid of?


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?


New art journal – an altered book

I’ve started a new art journal, and I wanted to share what I’m doing. As a journal lover, a writer and an avid reader, I’ve been really fascinated with the idea of altered books.

I recently came across this neat old French text-book when clearing out a really old cupboard at school. I think it’s from the 1970s. It’s fantastic as an altered journal because the pages are sewn, not stapled, so they will hold up well. It is sturdy and bound well, and the paper is quite thick.

Most of the writing is in French, but there is some English inside, plus lots of interesting pictures of Paris and other French things I can incorporate into future journal pages.

The reason I’m creating this altered book journal in addiction to my other art journals is because I need something low-stakes I can make a mess in. It cost me nothing and there are lots of pages I can play with. I simply slap on a coat of gesso, then set about using my gelli plate, paints, stamps, stencils, washi tape and pens to play.

My other art journals are a bit more precious, and I find myself wanting to create something that is pretty, rather than actually playing and exploring different media. I felt like I needed a place I could make a mess and be ok with it.

This, of course, is going to be a pretty strong theme throughout!

I want this journal to be sort of like a normal journal in that I can explore and express how I’m feeling at the time, but visually. I’m new to art journaling so I’m just trying to teach myself various techniques and things as I go. But, the point is, to keep doing. Keep making a mess, because from that mess comes something interesting.

Here are a few pages I’ve made so far, and a few close-ups on details I particularly like.







What Inspires Me

Found poem: Write the truth

This poem was ‘found’ on page 80 of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way (totally amazing book, if you haven’t read it).


I have noticed

an unpleasant


The creeping feeling that

this possibility

will stay lost

in the

extreme emotions of the pages themselves,

unable to perform

a course adjustment,

if I don’t

write the truth.


Journal prompt: I am…

Today I want to share a simple journal prompti-am I found in Marlene Schiwy’s A Voice of Her Own. This is a great book with lots of journaling tips, techniques, prompts and ideas. I’m really enjoying reading it at the moment.

The prompt is fairly simple, but it got me thinking about different aspects of my life, and myself, on quite a deep level.

It doesn’t take very long, and your answers could serve as a base to give you more to write about in detail in later journal entries.

>>> Prompt:

Take three pages in your journal. At the top of page one, write ‘I am’, at the top of page two write ‘I am not’ and on the last page write ‘I would like to be’.

Then, doing one page at a time, fill it with whatever comes to mind. You could do your pages as mindmaps, you could freewrite, or you could list your answers.

My answers were in list form, some were single words and others phrases. Here is a some from my own journal entry:

I am…

  • Creative
  • Ambitious
  • Tired
  • Hopeful
  • Learning to express myself creatively
  • Changing my life
  • Developing courage
  • Passionate about many things
  • Loving

I am not…i-would-like-to-be

  • Prepared to put my dreams on hold for any longer
  • Going to keep hiding parts of myself
  • Dieting
  • Prepared to settle
  • Going to limit my dreams and desires
  • Satisfied

I would like to be…

  • Fearless
  • At peace
  • Free
  • More focused and less scattered
  • An inspiration and role model to others
  • More willing to take risks
  • More creative

These are just a few things from my own lists. These lists are quite simple but there is a lot here that I could explore in later journal entries. I was even surprised by a few things that came up – for example, ‘I am not going to keep hiding parts of myself’. This has highlighted to me that there are times when I feel like I can’t truly be myself, which is something I would like to explore further.

If you have 15 minutes this weekend, take the time to try this prompt!

What Inspires Me

Wild Geese

Today I just wanted to share another poem I love by Mary Oliver. I love her poetry. She has an amazing way of weaving together beautiful natural imagery and the wonder that is life.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.


Journal prompt: The journey

I was thinking tonight on the drive home from work how much I’ve changed over the past few years.

In particular, the past six months of consistent journaling have seen me reconnect with myself. This is a strange thing to say, but it’s true.

I feel more like myself than I have in a long time – possibly ever.

hot-air-balloonsIt’s like I was going through the motions, feeling like my life was a little off, not quite what I wanted – but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that was wrong.

Now I know what was wrong. I was afraid (there’s that word again!). Afraid to listen to the little voice inside me – that’s when I could hear it – and afraid to make the changes I so craved to make.

I was afraid of failure, of what people would think, of having regrets, of not doing what I ‘should’ do.

And you know what? Fuck it. Life is too damn short.

I’m not afraid anymore.

The world is mine for the taking. I’m leaving behind the things that make me unhappy, the fears that people will judge me, or that I will make a mistake.

I’m creating an unconventional and exceptional life. I’m building a tiny house. I’m starting my own creative business so that I can work for myself, helping others and doing work I love. I’m creating regularly. I’ve quit dieting. These are just the first few steps towards a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life.


Here is possibly my most favourite poem, ever. It summarises my journey, and I’m sure, the journey of many others.

‘The Journey’ by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations
though their melancholy
was terrible. It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – – –
determined to save
the only life you could save.

>>> Prompts:

What is your journey? Can you describe it in a few sentences or paragraphs or a poem? If you’re stuck, try to write it in the second person as Oliver has done in her poem.

How have you changed?

Is there a journey you would like to take (either metaphorical or literal)? What is stopping you?

Do you feel like yourself? If so, how do you know? If not, why not?


25 Days into the 100 Day Project: A reflection

Today is the 25th day of the 100 Days Project. I’m a quarter of the way through the project, and I want to reflect on how it’s going.

It’s hard.

I know I’m probably not supposed to say that, but in the interest of being authentic and vulnerable, I should be honest.

I’m actually really enjoying the challenge of coming up with new topics and things to post. I’m enjoying the daily journaling and creativity, the daily commitment. I’m enjoying getting comments and support from readers and other bloggers – that has been such a huge pleasure.

This is the first time I have blogged this consistently.

It keeps me focused on what matters in my life: creativity and sharing my creativity with others.

But some days I am tired. I work as a teacher which requires a great deal of energy. It is especially difficult at the moment because I have moved to a new school which is further away – so I have to get up extra early if I want to journal before work. That is fine, but then it means that I have little energy in the evenings to blog, or do any other creative work, such as my art journal, or poetry.

Oh, and my best friend and I are planning our own online business, which takes a lot of time and energy too! But it’s the good kind.

heart close upSo what does this mean for my blogging? Nothing much. I’ve thought about stopping the 100 Days Project but in truth I don’t want to. I enjoy the challenge. I like being committed to something. I like having to share my thoughts and my creative practice regularly. I think if you want to achieve something creative, particularly writing or art, doing it every day is important.

Can I keep going for another 75 days? I don’t see why not. When I read about amazing inspiring people like Lisa Sonora’s 1008 paintings project I am just blown away. It makes me laugh about my 25 days of blogging.

Lisa says throughout the course of the project she dealt with questions such as:

‘How do we stay on track with a big goal?
How do we start again when we’ve gotten sidelined?
What supports constructive action and creating? And what undermines?’

These are things I should explore in my own journal. If I’m feeling like I want to give up, why is that?

why I want to blog

Susannah Conway has said that every week she worries she has run out of good blogging material. Anne Lamott says that she often worries she has run out of ideas. So I guess the mild panic I feel each day about what to blog about is only normal.

I like the fact that it keeps me on my toes. The discomfort and challenge of blogging every day is good for me as a writer and artist. It keeps me pushing forward towards a goal, even when it feels a little uncomfortable.

So, on that note, here’s to 75 more days of getting outside my comfort zone!


Trust your intuition + journal prompts

I learnt an interesting lesson this weekend – to trust that gut feeling, my intuition.

I had a hunch about something, and it proved to be right. Except, I kept second guessing myself, telling myself I was foolish. I felt so certain, but at the same time doubtful.

The doubt came from fear (my good old friend!) and sometimes it felt like the doubt was speaking louder than my intuition.

You know that feeling, when you just feel certain about something? When, even if it seems silly, or you can’t explain it, or you just have a knowing… listen to it. Because it’s probably right!


Journaling ideas:

  • Do you listen to your intuition?
  • How loud is it? Is it easy to hear, or is it drowned out by logic, left brain thinking and the busyness of everyday life?
  • What does it sound like, or feel like?
  • Is there something your intuition is telling you right now that you’ve been ignoring or dismissing for some reason?
  • How could you tune into it more?

A (very small) blogging milestone and what’s to come

This is the first time I have ever blogged every day for over a week. And this is my first time completing a blog series.

I’m pretty pleased with myself, to be honest!

I’ve still got 91 days of journaling and blogging to go before the 100 Days Project is up. I started this project by diving straight into a series of posts – that way I knew I wouldn’t run out of material. It took a bit of pressure off because I didn’t need to come up with something new every day – I always knew where the series was going.This was safe, but a little limiting.

Now that I’ve finished the series, it’s wide open. I can blog about whatever I want. Anything. Except…

I’m getting a little bit of stage fright here. Over the past week I’ve managed to gain a few followers (hello and welcome!) and now I have a wee audience. It’s both scary and exciting.

I want to push myself to explore different ways of journaling and blogging. When I sit down to write a blog post, I try to make sure I have a point to make, some sort of insight to offer. And while that can certainly be good, I don’t think each post needs to reveal some deep mystery about life.

My goal is to offer both insight and inspiration, in equal doses.


So I want to explore different blogging styles by including lists, poetry, more photography as well as journaling prompts and techniques. Things that can inspire people to take action and be creative, as well as posts that encourage reflection.

I’m doing (another) Susannah Conway course at the moment (because, trust me, she’s that awesome). She says, about blogging:

You don’t always have to be wise.

I like that. I can’t offer all the answers, but I can share what I do and what inspires me in the hopes that it will help or inspire someone else.

So while the journaling series was interesting and helpful as a way for me to ease into my blogging marathon, it’s time for me to take away the safety net and explore being more spontaneous and sharing more of myself on my blog.

What you can expect over the next 91 days:

  • Some short and some long posts
  • Poetry
  • Journaling techniques, tips and prompts
  • Some of my art journaling experiences
  • Maybe another series!
  • Reflections on creativity and journaling
  • More photos
  • Things that inspire me, including other blogs, quotes, lyrics etc
  • … And anything else that takes my fancy!

I look forward to getting to know you better as I move into the next leg of my blogging journey!