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.

What Inspires Me

Weekly inspiration

Each week I share links to the posts and pages that have most inspired me. Feel free to share anything that has inspired you in the comments below.

wellington waterLoving this idea of being deliberate with our words by Jamie Ridler.

This post is a bit old, but the message is timeless. Wise words for anyone struggling at the moment.

This is such a simple question to ask ourselves each day. A good journal prompt to get you thinking.

This fantastic list of art journal prompts.

A simple journal prompt that could lead to big change.

Have a lovely and inspiring week!

Creativity

Journal prompt: Letter to your son or daughter

Last weekend when I was playing around in my altered book journal, I made a two page spread that looked a little like old paper. I didn’t want to put lots of images and colours on there like I usually do, so I decided to do a bit of writing.

altered-book-07As it’s not my normal written journal (but rather a place that is a little more playful) I decided to do something a little bit different: a letter to my (future) daughter.

I don’t have kids yet, but my partner and I talk about how we want to raise our kids when we do have them. I think a lot about the things I value in my life and some of the more conscious decisions I’ve made for myself over the past year (to avoid mainstream media/advertising, quit dieting, downsize and focus on what’s really important, etc). I often think about what I want to teach my kids, when I have them, and especially my daughter(s), because I think it is so hard growing up in this day and age for young women.

So that is what I did – I wrote a letter to my future daughter, with all the lessons I’ve learned so far. The funny thing is, all the advice I seemed to be offering was indeed advice I needed to hear too!

>>> Prompt:

Take a fresh page in your journal. If you like you could do this in an art journal and include images and colour too.

Now, from the heart and as honestly as you can, write a letter to your future (or current!) children. If you don’t have children or don’t plan to/want to have children, write the letter to a niece or nephew, or someone younger you care about.

Your letter may take the form of advice, as mine has, or it may be about your story, something personal you want to share. There is no right or wrong way to do this.

travel

I just wanted to share with my future daughter the lessons that most stand out to me at this stage in my life. I’m sure if I wrote the same letter in 5 years time, some lessons would be the same and there would hopefully be others to add!

Some of my advice included the following:

  • Trust your intuition
  • Be bold – have courage
  • Dream big and don’t listen to those who say you can’t
  • Travel and see the world
  • Find a creative outlet you love and create often
  • Love yourself unconditionally. You’re good enough – imperfections and all
  • Find others you love and cherish them

What would you write to your (future) son or daughter?

Creativity, Self Empowerment

The risk to blossom

 

Anais Nin famously said:

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

I love this quote, so much. It is only recently that I have come to realise that it is too painful for me to remain tight in a bud – I am now taking the risk to blossom.

I think this quote means that we stay in our comfort zones, we deny our true feelings and we try to protect ourselves.

Since starting a regular journaling routine, I have come to realise that I can blossom – it isn’t as scary or dangerous as it seems. I have all the courage I need inside.

Here are a few of the ways I used to ‘remain tight in a bud’:

  • Drinking
  • Watching a lot of television
  • Spending hours online
  • Napping
  • Overeating
  • Spending time with people I didn’t really care for, just so I wouldn’t have to be alone
  • Overworking, becoming exhausted
  • Denying that I had any control over my life
  • Shopping aimlessly
  • Dieting relentlessly
  • Perfectionism and procrastination

But now that I’ve created an ongoing dialogue with my true, authentic self through my daily journaling routine, I am finding the courage to ‘blossom’ in these ways:

  • Starting (and continuing) a creative practice
  • Experimenting with different art supplies and techniques, such as acrylic paint, watercolour, mixed media, crayons, pencils, pens, etc
  • Building a tiny house
  • Starting my own creative business
  • Acknowledging my deepest desires and daring to believe I can make them a reality
  • Sharing my work, my thoughts and ideas with others
  • Accepting myself as a flawed but deeply lovable human being
  • Quitting dieting

These are just a few of the ways I have sought to change my life over the past 6 months. Looking back now it seems like I’ve made quite a few big changes – most of them are internal. Most of them are shifts in my sense of courage, of determination. the external changes have naturally flowed on from there.

I can’t say it enough: it is the simple act of journaling each day that has allowed me to get to this point. It is the ongoing conversation with my true self, with my inner wisdom and courage. It is being awake in my life, rather than numbing my feelings through the things in the first list above.

So I challenge you: in what ways do you attempt to remain tight in a bud, and how can you find the courage to blossom?

Creativity, Self Empowerment

How journaling improved my relationship

When I first started journaling regularly, I began to develop a deeper relationship with myself. With that came a desire to express myself creatively and I even began to imagine the possibility of starting my own creative online business.

And something else happened too: my relationship with my partner improved.

I didn’t plan for this to happen. I certainly didn’t start journaling with the intention of improving my relationship. But it was a happy side-effect.

In fact, it wasn’t until I looked back on the benefits of journaling after doing it for several months that I realised how wonderful things had been in our relationship at that time.

Why did our relationship improve? I think it’s because I had made myself a priority.

It sounds paradoxical, but by putting myself first – by regularly journaling, connecting with myself and nurturing my creativity – I had formed a better relationship with myself, which had a flow-on effect to our relationship.

I’ve heard it said many times that you can’t love someone else or be truly loved by someone else until you love and accept yourself.

Over the past six months, through my journaling, I have developed a level of self-acceptance – no, self-love – that I have never before had.

For the first time in my life I can honestly say that I love and accept myself, exactly as I am, with all my imperfections. Journaling (and quitting dieting) has helped me to get to this point.

By loving and taking care of myself every day, I have become a happier, more secure and more creatively fulfilled person. And this has had a profound effect on my relationship.

In what ways? Well, we don’t argue very much at all. We actually spend less time together, because I spend a lot of time doing my creative things (he’s very understanding because he has his own creative things), but the time we do spend together is quality time. It’s enhanced by me being happier, more relaxed, more fulfilled and more in touch with who I am.

So, if you’re looking for a way to improve your relationship, try taking some time out for yourself regularly to journal or do something creative.

Have you noticed any outward improvements in your life or relationships because of your journaling practice?

Creativity, Self Empowerment

On authenticity, vulnerability and courage

These words are thrown around a lot. Especially the word ‘authentic’. It’s become a self-help buzzword, of sorts. What does authenticity really mean? I believe it is closely tied with vulnerability and courage.

Why? Because in order to be truly authentic – that is, to be truly yourself – you need to have the courage to be vulnerable, exposed. Being who you really are in a world that constantly tells you to be someone else requires courage. Especially if who you are is a little different.

The word vulnerability is a little scary, isn’t it? Sounds a bit dangerous, a bit risky. But really, there is a paradoxical truth here.

Vulnerability actually empowers us.

The more that we can truly own who we are, claim our identity and just be us – the less that others can influence us or hurt us. No one can take away who you really are. And if you know and love your true self, it really doesn’t matter what others think or say about you.

I’ve been finding that the more I come to accept and embrace – even celebrate – the quirks that make up who I am, the more I am forced to be vulnerable. I have to share myself, my true self, with others. It’s very difficult to tell ourselves that we are good enough while actively hiding parts of ourselves from others.

But a strange thing is happening: The more I share who I really am with the world, the more I am developing courage.

Brene Brown likens courage to swimming – you get good at swimming by practicing swimming. Similarly, you get good at courage by practicing courage. This makes sense.

So often we don’t share our true selves (our feelings, opinions, dreams, hopes, disappointments, fears) with others, because we don’t feel brave enough. We hide who we are; we are afraid to be vulnerable. We lack courage. It is only through the practice of being vulnerable that we can develop courage.

This can all seem a bit abstract. Let me put it in concrete terms. For me, vulnerability and courage look a bit like this:

  • Making peace with the way I look, including being overweight, and accepting that some people will have a problem with that (but that’s not my problem)
  • Accepting that others may judge me for some of my unconventional beliefs/choices (such as wanting to live in a tiny house, refusing to watch the news because it makes me very sad, not caring about things like fancy weddings or expensive clothes/makeup, choosing to be at home alone rather than out partying, refusing to eat low-fat dairy – because really, what is that?)
  • Being open about how I feel if I’m having a bad day
  • Asking questions when I am unsure, even if I think I’ll look stupid
  • Not caring what others think of me (still working on this one!)
  • Sharing personal things about myself on a blog!

But I’ve come to realise that in order for me to be authentic – to feel like I am accepting and loving who I am and just ‘being myself’ – I need to be willing to be vulnerable. I must have the courage to share who I am with others, regardless of what they will think of me.

Journaling has helped me immensely with learning to love myself and developing courage. The more often I engage in a journaling dialogue with myself, with my dreams and desires, my fears and opinions, the more I come to accept and even celebrate who I am.

Some questions to ponder in your journal:

  • What does authenticity mean to you? And courage? Vulnerability?
  • How authentic do you feel you are? Would you say that most people know the ‘real you’?
  • Are there parts of yourself that you deliberately keep hidden from others? What are they? Why do you hide them?
  • Are there parts of yourself you would like to share with others more readily?
  • How could you be more authentic? What parts of yourself could you start to share?
Self Empowerment

Be gentle with yourself

Today I really don’t feel like being creative.

I’m tired. I started a new job this week and have to get up very early to get there before the traffic starts in order to avoid a long commute. It was pitch black when I left for work this morning.

I already get up early to journal, so an earlier start with the new job is tough. It will take me a while to adapt to this.

So tonight when I got home, I had a hot shower, made myself a hot water bottle (it’s winter here!) and climbed into bed.

As much as I love being creative and using my time after work to do pages in my art journal, or create found poetry, or do any number of the ‘productive’ things that bring me joy – today I’m just too tired.

And that’s ok, too.

I think to myself, what would I say to a friend who told me that she was tired from starting a new job? I would say:

Just rest. Be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself kindly.

Often I think we pride ourselves on keeping busy – people rant about all the things they have to do as if to show how important they are because they are so busy. We associate busyness with importance, with meaning.

And we have come to associate rest, quiet and slowness with a sign that something is wrong.

But I think there is as much joy to be found in being gentle with ourselves, in resting, as there is with being productive.

It is in the quiet time, the time between the rushing and the doing, that we nurture ourselves. By choosing a book and a cup of tea curled up in bed instead of my art journal and paints tonight, I am listening to my body and giving it what it needs. I am refilling the well of creativity inside, so that I can be productive and creative another time.

It’s all about balance: you need to receive rest and nourishment so that you can create and share your gifts with the world.

Take time out to rest and nurture yourself this week.