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!



5 ways to fill your creative well


I love to create.

The past two years I have been through a period of intense creativity and inspiration. It has been an amazing journey into the creative unknown, and a feeling of coming home to myself. I’m finally feeling like I’ve found my true creative center.

But right now, after a hard year of work and creative exploration, I’m feeling a little spent. I go to sit down with my art journal and paints, and feel aimless. I try to write a blog post, and feel stuck. I’m even feeling disinterested in picking up my written journal, which is strange because I’ve been writing most days since early this year.

At first, I panicked. All the lovely inspiration and excitement about my creativity was gone! I worried it was a phase, a one-off, a part of my history.

Now, I’m feeling pulled to do things like watch TV shows, read, sleep or browse aimlessly online. I’m trying to want to create, but am finding myself wanting to rest and zone out instead.

Why? Because my creative well is empty. In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron says,

In order to create, we draw from our inner well… we must learn to be self-nourishing… to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them.

I’ve spent the whole year creating – both at home for myself and at work for others. I’m drained.

This is reassuring in this time of creative down-time.

I’m not out of creativity – I just need to refill my creative well.

I think this is something we all need, in order to keep creating. Creativity requires an outpouring of energy from us, so we must refill that in some way.

Cameron goes on to say,

The artist brain is the sensory brain: sight and sound, smell and taste, touch. These are the elements of magic, and magic is the elemental stuff of art. In filling the well, think magic. Think delight. Think fun. Do not think duty. Do not think what you should do… Do what intrigues you, explore what interests you.

This is going to look different for everyone. What inspires and excites one person will possibly bore someone else senseless.

So, in order to refill the creative well, we need to engage our senses. While this can include just bringing presence and awareness to more everyday tasks, I’m looking for something to shake up my routine and reignite the inspiration I was feeling earlier this year.

1. Visit somewhere new

This could be simply going to a new cafe or bookstore that you’ve not yet explored, or it could be taking a drive to a different part of town, or it could be taking some time to go to a new city or country. It doesn’t have to be huge, just go somewhere you’ve not been before, and pay attention to what’s around you. Take your journal and note down what you can see, smell, taste, hear and feel.

2. Rest

This might seem a bit counter-intuitive, but it might be that you are simply tired or burnt-out after a period of creativity or work, and you just need to get your body (and spirit) back into balance. Creativity requires an expenditure of energy and this can be too demanding if we are already feeling run-down. Take some guilt-free time to nap, sleep late, curl up on the couch with a movie, lie in the sun and just be still. After a while you will be itching to get back into it!

3. Go somewhere you find inspiring

This could be an art gallery, your local library, a favourite restaurant, a scenic lookout with a fantastic view, a favourite hiking spot, a secluded beach, a music store, an art store… whatever it is that reminds you about the creative possibilities for your life. Take your journal and freewrite about the feelings of inspiration that arise.

4. Do something new

Listen to music you’ve not listened to before, try a new food or recipe, read a book by a new author, watch a film that is a different genre to your usual favourites, meet new people in a class or meetup group, learn a new skill like dancing, knitting, guitar, or even just rearrange the furniture in your house. Surprise and delight your senses by doing something unexpected. Make a list in your journal of things you’ve always wanted to try and do one of them.

5. Get rid of stuff

It’s easy to slowly accumulate things: clothes we don’t wear, art supplies we don’t use, books we don’t read, sports gear and fitness equipment that started with the best intentions… after a while this can feel overwhelming. The physical space this excess stuff fills also spills over into our creative space. You need to make room, both physically and spiritually, for inspiration to flourish and your creativity to bloom. In your journal make a list of  5 things you could get rid of every day for the next 30 days, either big or small. Sell them or donate them to charity – either way, you will start to notice a space opening up as you make room for your creativity and inspiration.

*  *  *

Regardless of what you do, Cameron notes that paying attention is most important: put your phone away, your laptop away, take your headphones out of your ears, stop worrying and be present.

In your journal, note down which of the above ideas appeals most to you. It could be helpful to write your own list of ways to fill your creative well when you are feeling drained, so that you can easily turn to it to find inspiration again.

How do you fill your creative well? Share in the comments below.

Creativity, Self Empowerment

Journal prompt: I need…

It’s easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of every day life. Sometimes we are so busy running from one thing to the next that we forget to do the things we need to look after ourselves. In other words, we let our self-care take a backseat.

Sometimes, just bringing awareness to things we need at a particular time in our lives can help us start to address the imbalance.

I know for me that I have been feeling especially run-down and unwell lately. This is a sign that my body, mind and spirit need things that I’m not currently providing. So, I found this simple journal prompt to be really helpful.

>>> Prompt:I need more

Take a blank page in your journal. If you like to write big, a two page spread might be better.

At the top of one page, write the words ‘I need more…’ and then write ‘I need less…’ at the top of the other page.

Then, write whatever comes to mind under each of the headings.

You may choose to do this in list format, as a mindmap, or just stream-of-consciousness. You could even do it as an art journal page and doodle/draw or collage images and colours that represent how you want to feel. Do whatever feels best for you.

If you want to stay focused on the positive, then you might just do the ‘I need more’ list.

Here are a few of the things from my lists right now:

I need more:

  • magic
  • time out in nature
  • art-making
  • connection
  • rest
  • nourishing food
  • action

I need less:

  • rushing
  • stress
  • numbing
  • television
  • worry
  • comparison
  • doubt

Your lists may look similar to mine, or they may be totally different.

You might find that there are a few things on the list that appear to be in conflict with one another. For example, on my ‘I need more list’ I put both rest and action. I can take these two words and do some free-writing to explore this further.

It might also be helpful to choose one or two things that really stand out to you from each list, then jot down a few ideas of how to get more/less of that thing.

So for me, I want more rest and less television, more creativity and less numbing – I could spend more time reading, journaling and napping when I feel tired, rather than turning to television or the internet to distract myself.

What do you most need right now? Share your experiences with this prompt in the comments below.

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!

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?


Journal prompt: I don’t want to write about…

What do you avoid writing about? Why?

Now that I’ve gotten back into the swing of simple written journaling, I’m finding myself gradually peeling back the layers behind my words. I’m also on a break from work, so I have more time to really delve deep.

The other day, on my weekend getaway to the beach, I found myself carefully dancing around a few issues in my journal. Actually, no, I was flat-out avoiding them.

I wanted to write. I picked up my journal and jotted down a few straightforward lines, but I kept hovering at the surface.

Eventually, I wrote: There are some things I am avoiding talking about right now. Then, to maintain momentum, I listed them off quickly, one after the other.


And just seeing them on the page in front of me was a relief. Why I had I been so scared to write these things down? And besides, what was my journal for if not to explore and resolve problems I’m having?

I decided to be brave and venture further. It was a conscious choice – I decided I wanted to face and explore these things, even though that might feel uncomfortable.

Well, it was a good idea, because it led me to several solutions. And for those issues I didn’t manage to resolve, I certainly felt a sense of relief. There’s something about putting the scary things in our heads down in words that takes away their power.

>>> Prompt:

Take some time out when you won’t be disturbed and make sure you are somewhere you feel safe.

Write at the top of the page: I don’t want to write about/I am avoiding talking about…

Take a deep breath and remind yourself that whatever emotions you feel, you can handle them. Then, let the words flow out of your pen. *

If it feels a bit daunting, you could set a timer and write only for say, 10 minutes. However, I felt the best after letting my issues reach a natural resolution in my journal. This doesn’t mean they were solved, but it means that I felt like I had naturally finished saying what I wanted to at that point. I think if I had set a timer it may have felt unresolved.

If it feels like nothing is coming, or you feel too afraid to face whatever the issue is, that is ok. You could wait for a bit, or simply leave the exercise for another day. Be kind to yourself, go gently.

I suggest you only do this exercise when you feel like you are prepared to deal with whatever comes up. For example, I wrote about my difficult things when I was away somewhere that I always feel safe, a place I go to rest and relax. I also had my best friend in the next room if I felt I needed someone further to talk to.

*Note: obviously a journal, as wonderful as it is, cannot be a replacement for a qualified mental health professional. If you are dealing with some serious trauma then please seek the appropriate professional help. Journaling can be a wonderful tool to use along with therapy but certainly cannot be a replacement for it if your situation calls for it.


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.

Self Empowerment

We all get the same amount of time

I read something interesting the other day on this awesome post on Brain Pickings (that website is amazing, FYI):

Without Time nothing is possible. Everything requires Time. Time is the only permanent and absolute ruler in the universe. But she is a scrupulously fair ruler. She treats every living person exactly alike every day. No matter how much of the world’s goods you have managed to accumulate, you cannot successfully plead for a single moment more than the pauper receives without ever asking for it. Time is the one great leveler. Everyone has the same amount to spend every day.

The next time you feel that you ‘haven’t the time’ to do what you really want to do, it may be worth-while for you to remember that you have as much time as anyone else — twenty-four hours a day. How you spend that twenty-four hours is really up to you.

That really got me thinking. It’s so funny how often we feel like we don’t have enough time to do things. But really, we all have the same amount of time to spend each day. It’s just about how we fill that time.

Most of us probably spend around 8-9 hours a day at work. Outside of that time, we can choose how we spend our time. (Some would also argue we can choose inside that time too, and I strongly agree, but that’s another post for another day).

Today, even though I was super busy with work, I made time for some important things:

  • Having dinner with my partner
  • An after work nap
  • Watching a favourite film (Midnight in Paris, seen it so many times and love it!)
  • Sitting and enjoying a cup of coffee
  • Tidying and organising my office
  • A quick look in a few stationery stores
  • Cuddles with my pup
  • Blogging

Actually, the one thing I haven’t done today was journal. I guess that’s first to make time for tomorrow!

What have you made time for today?


Art journal prompt: Copy an artist you love

I came across a really interesting idea in Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist: copy the work of others.

This might sound a little unethical but I assure you it’s not, if you do it right. Here’s a summary of his main points:

We’re talking about practice here, not plagiarism – plagiarism is trying to pass someone else’s work off as your own. Copying is about reverse-engineering. It’s like a mechanic taking apart a car to see how it works… Who to copy is easy. You copy your heroes – the people you love, the people you’re inspired by, the people you want to be… What to copy is a little bit trickier. Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style… At some point, you’ll have to move from imitating your heroes to emulating them. Imitation is about copying. Emulation is when imitation goes one step further, breaking through into your own thing.

He goes on to explain that it’s about copying them and then adding your own spin on it to make it something else, to add something to the world that only you can. He also points out that copying one person is not good, but taking inspiration from many is.

I also think it’s worth noting, as Kleon points out, ‘Even The Beatles started as a cover band.’

Why do I mention all this?

As someone who is reasonably new to art journaling I needed to find a ‘way in’. I was inspired by so many different artists and wanted to make art like them.

I didn’t know where to begin with my own art journaling, so I copied those who most inspired me.

I still do, because I haven’t yet found my own unique all-that-paperstyle. But – I’m bringing together the elements from each that I love. By taking inspiration from the various artists that inspire me, and adding my own interests and ideas, I am slowly forming an idea of who I want to be in my art journals.

And you know what? Without approaching it this way, I would never have started. I would have stared at the blank page and not had a clue what to do. I would have been lost. I know that the artists I copy want to inspire others, so I turned to them.

Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find yourself. – Yohji Yamamoto

playI took lettering ideas from one artist, background and painting ideas from another. I took collage and stamping ideas from yet another. Without them even realising, they have taught me how to art journal. They have taught me various ways to express myself.

I never stop looking for inspiration. I browse Instagram (way too often!) for pictures of other people’s art journals for ideas. The thing I absolutely love about blogging and social media is the way that people openly share their work and encourage others. Somehow my foray into journaling, a generally isolated activity, has led to me discovering and being welcomed into a vast online community of creatives.

>>> Prompt:

Find a few people whose art journals you admire. You can save images on your computer, or print them out and stick them near your desk/creative space.

Try to identify what it is you love about their style. Perhaps it’s the whimsical lettering, or the layers. Maybe you love their use of colour, or patterns, or old photographs. Maybe their art journals capture a feeling – happiness, playfulness, courage, calm. Try to pinpoint what it is you love.

Now, take a fresh page in your art journal and, focusing on one at a time, try to create your own version of their image, using their style. Copy it straight out, if you like, or add your own little touch to it. Try this with all the artists/images you’ve selected.

Now take a few of the elements you most enjoy from your images and try to weave them into your art journaling pages in the future. Remember, it’s ok to copy their style and emulate their work, but it is not ok to just recreate it. And when you share on Instagram/Facebook etc, I always find it good to tag them and give them credit as your inspiration. And they often love to see how they have inspired others too!

Here is a list of some of my favourite journalers if you need help getting started:

Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing – Salvador Dali