Write to the Centre – A book review and giveaway

Write to the Centre: Navigating life with gluestick and words
by Helen Lehndorf

Write to the Centre - Helen Lehndorf

Do you ever feel like you are a total weirdo? Like no one understands you, or if people knew what you really think, they might be horrified? Do you ever struggle to understand your own feelings and reactions to things and need a bit of help untangling them? I do, I do and I do. – Helen Lehndorf

This book. I don’t know where to start except to say that I love it. LOVE it.

Flipping through it simply to look at the gorgeous imagery is enough to inspire me – a few pages in and I’m itching to get out my journal, gluestick and paints, and get creating.

But the text itself is also inspiring. I’d describe it as part how-to, part memoir. The author shares excerpts from her own journal alongside guidance on journal-keeping. All her ideas and advice are illustrated by her own words from her own journals.

From Write to the Centre

There’s just something so intimate and comforting about reading the words of another’s journals – something that tells you that you’re not alone in your feelings, experiences, views of the world. By the end of the book I feel like I know Helen – like I’ve met a kindred spirit on a journey similar to mine: someone trying to find their way in the world, using creative practice to make sense of it all.

She covers topics like getting started and making journaling a habit, allowing the ugly, navigating life transitions in your journal, processing pain, solving problems, creating rituals, appreciating the good. And each chapter ends with a unique and detailed journaling prompt to get you working in your own journal.

From Write to the Centre

My favourite thing about this book is the imagery from Helen’s visual journals. It is an absolute feast for the eyes and soul; Helen’s distinctive and unique journaling style is colourful, messy and intuitive. She combines collage, painting and her handwriting to create honest and interesting journal pages (see more of her style here). It’s a great book to dip into for a creative boost.

You can grab your copy of the book here.


—- The giveaway is now closed —-

Helen has been generous enough to provide me with a copy to give away. I’m so thrilled to be able to do this because it is such a gorgeous book and it needs to be in the hands of every visual journaler. I’m also throwing in a set of watercolour paints to get you painting in your journal. Here’s how to enter:

  • Share this post, or the image below on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+) or on your own blog
  • Use the hashtag #writetothecentregiveaway
  • Comment below (so I know you’ve shared it and I have a way to contact you!) telling me where you shared it and what you love most about journaling
  • Closes August 31st midnight EST 2017

Win a copy of the gorgeous journaling book Write to the Centre and a set of watercolour paints!

Full disclosure – I was sent a free copy of the book and asked to review it – but I had already purchased my own copy so that’s why I’m giving this copy away. Everything I’ve said in this review comes from my heart – I just adore the book and recommend it to any journaling enthusiast like myself.

What Inspires Me

What I’m reading this year: 17 books in 2017

a reading challenge

I love reading.

Well, more specifically, I love books.

In particular, I love non-fiction books – especially those of the spiritual, self-help and creativity variety. It must be the coach in me.

Plus I love a good memoir – especially one where the writer overcomes some kind of obstacle or grows in some way – and I especially love memoirs with a dash of travel or some kind of journey – the rainbow waythink Eat, Pray, Love, Paris Letters or Wild. I have a hunger for adventure and growth but can’t quite see myself making it through the entire Pacific Crest Trail (although eating my way through Rome or Paris is another story!).

I collect books like they’re going out of fashion (actually, some people think they are). I’m moving into a tiny house in the next month or two. And when I say tiny, I mean this tiny. There isn’t a lot of room for books. Really I should stop buying them and maybe even get rid of some (lots).

But I can’t. I can get rid of clothes and live off only a few main items (right now I’m living in really stylish nursing tops). I can get rid of kitchen items, linen I don’t use – even shoes and handbags are a non-issue for me. But books – it’s like asking me to give up little parts of my soul.

To me, these non-fiction books represent possibility.

They are tiny portals into a better version of my life, manuals with instructions for growth and change, portable life and spiritual coaches to help me become the me I know is in there and live the life I keep imagining.

But I have a bit of a shameful confession.

As voraciously as I collect these books, I don’t always manage to read them all.

In fact, most of them have underlining and notes in the intro and first chapter or two, and that’s it. I get distracted by the next purchase and abandon it.

Last year I read two books that really inspired me – I would go so far as to say they were life-changing: Light is the New Black by Rebecca Campbell and Unwritten by Jack Delosa. I couldn’t get enough of these two – they spoke to me with what I needed to hear right when I needed it. They are full of notes. I want more of this.

you are your heroes

I was recently inspired by Leonie’s list of books she read in 2016 and thought I’d create my own. I have a mini (or not so mini) library right at my fingertips just begging to be read. I want a challenge, some public accountability, I want to actually read these gorgeous books I buy.

Most of all, I want the growth, insight and inspiration that comes from reading these sorts of books.

Besides, I have hours of free time sitting around each day – either while feeding my little man or while he naps – and I don’t want to just spend it watching TV shows (my latest guilty pleasure – watching old episodes of Mad About You!).

So, the 17 Books in 2017 Challenge was born.

I know 17 books in a year isn’t a lot – some people read multiple books a week. And I can read fiction really quickly – it’s easy to get really involved in the story and it doesn’t tend to require a lot of mental energy. But non-fiction books that require me to think about my life and my beliefs are entirely different. I’m not a particularly fast reader – I like to stop and think, make notes, underline key points and journal about the book. It must be the teacher in me.

lifes best work

Plus, one year I set a goal of reading 52 books in a year and gave up after like 3 weeks. There was too much pressure and it took the joy right out of it.

This challenge is do-able to me, but will require a bit of effort. The perfect balance, I think. Plus we are already well into February – so that means I need to read a book roughly once every 2-3 weeks.

Here’s my plan:

  • Read the book over the 2-3 week period (or sooner, if I’m inspired to do so).
  • Share quotes and other insights that inspire me on social media using the hashtag #reading17in2017
  • Take notes in my journal
  • Write a blog post that loosely reviews the book, shares some of my favourite insights and some journal prompts based on the lessons and inspiration from the book
  • Choose the next one!

I invite you to join me – either with some or all of the books below, or with your own reading list.

My reading list:

I should preface this by saying these are not going to be the latest, newest reads. Some of these have been around for ages, but I’m only just getting around to reading them myself. There is no underlining theme or logic (although most of these books are about creativity or motherhood, or both) – these are simply books I’ve had on my radar for a while but haven’t made time to read.

I should also say that I think life is too short to read a book I’m not enjoying. If I give a book an honest go and can’t make headway, I’ll leave it and move onto the next.

In no particular order:

  1. The Rainbow Way – Cultivating creativity in the midst of motherhood – Lucy H. Pearce
  2. Spilt Milk Yoga – A guided self-inquiry to finding your own wisdom, joy and purpose through motherhood – Cathryn Monro
  3. Write to the Center – Navigating life with gluestick and words – Helen Lehndorf
  4. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing – Marie Kondo
  5. Burning Woman – Lucy H. Pearce
  6. Liberating Motherhood – Birthing the purplestockings movement – Vanessa Olorenshaw
  7. The Well-Crafted Mom – Kathleen Ann Harper
  8. Soul Vows – Gathering the presence of the divine in you, through you, and as you – Janet Conner
  9. Still Writing – The perils and pleasures of a creative life – Dani Shapiro
  10. Wild Women, Wild Voices – Writing from your authentic wildness – Judy Reeves
  11. Rise Sister Rise – Rebecca Campbell
  12. The Soul of Creativity – Insights into the creative process – Edited by Tona Pearce Myers
  13. Brave – 50 everyday acts of courage to thrive in work, love and live  – Margie Warrell
  14. Women Who Run with the Wolves – Contacting the power of the wild woman – Clarissa Pinkola Estes
  15. Moods of Motherhood – The inner journey of mothering – Lucy H. Pearce

So far that’s all I have. I’ll likely find many new books I want to read this year, and I’m open to suggestions!

I hope you’ll consider doing your own reading challenge. I’d love to hear your current reads, recommendations and favourites in the comments!

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?