Creativity: Why I’m going it alone

If you’ve been following this blog for some time, you will have noticed the changes around here.

It started out as just me, a blogging newbie and journaling enthusiast, then Kelly came on board, and if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve noticed that it’s back to little old me – still a journaling enthusiast, but with a little more blogging experience under my belt.

So what’s been going on? Why all the changes?

It’s been about a year since I first waded into the world of creativity in earnest. It started with an innocent journaling course, then I found myself falling headfirst in love with everything to do with journaling, art journaling and any and all aspects of creativity.

I found that these things perfectly complemented my training in life coaching, psychology and teaching.

I’d always wanted to blog, and had attempted it several times, but this time it stuck. Why?

Because I finally found a topic I’m so in love with that
I just all you need is love and journalingcan’t help but talk to everyone about it.

My bestie Kelly was also in love with the same things, and she also wrote a blog, so we started to plan ways we could share our passion. It made sense to write a blog together, to create a community online around the things we both love.

So she came on board here with me. We both started blogging about the things we loved: creativity, self-love, self-care and journaling.

But things started to change, for both of us. Instead of being inspired by each other, we started to feel stuck. We couldn’t figure out why, so we just kept going.

I started wondering where the magic had gone.

What happened to that feeling of wanting to share any and everything I love about journaling and creativity? Why was I suddenly feeling uninspired and stuck?

It turns out, our creative dreams can be a very personal thing.

Despite the fact that we both loved journaling and blogging, what we didn’t love was sharing one online space together. We felt as though we were cramping each other’s style – unknowingly, and unintentionally, putting creative limits on one another.

I missed the freedom to just be myself, to follow my own creative whims and share my strange imperfections.

I realized that if I am to evolve creatively and truly follow my own deeply personal creative path, I need to go it alone.

This can be scary, and there was something so reassuring about having Kel right by my side. She was there to bounce ideas off, to brainstorm with, to laugh over endless cups of tea as we dreamed big creative dreams together.

Since we’ve gone our separate creative ways, I really miss those moments.

I believeBut even more rewarding is the sense of building something all by myself: fueling my own creative fire and lighting my own path.

I think we certainly need others out on the creative path – people to reassure us when times are tough, to tell us that they too struggle, to share ideas and inspiration, to cheer us on when we doubt ourselves.

Ultimately though, I think creativity is a solo expedition: an excavation of our own inner selves – our fears, our dreams, our lives.

While support from others is certainly valuable and I would say even necessary, ultimately it’s up to you to venture within.

So, Journal Wild is back to just me. What started as Journaling Dangerously, an experiment in journaling more often, has become Journal Wild, a full-blown commitment to a creatively nourishing life.

I’ve got my inner creative fire to light the path ahead and I’m going it alone.


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.


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.


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.

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?


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.

Self Empowerment

Take all the time you need

The universe has a way of slowing us down if we are going too fast. So often we feel reluctant to stop and rest when we can be busy and productive.

Our society prizes busy-ness over rest.

Today I had a hard time just resting, just doing nothing. But, my body was screaming at me to stop, so I curled up on the couch with a blanket, my laptop, some lemon tea and watched Friends re-runs (I would have chosen The Office but I watched that not long ago).

It was great. I will probably have to do the same thing tomorrow.

I felt myself wanting to go to my desk, to paint or play with my new stamp-carving supplies (yay!) or do a load of laundry (not so yay, but still has to be done!), but I forced myself to stay under the covers. I even had to cancel dinner with friends, which I had been looking forward to all week.

I talk a lot about rest. I don’t think it can be overemphasized in today’s world.

As a highly sensitive person (HSP) I tend to feel more easily overwhelmed, tired and just plain run-down than the average person. Add to that a stressful teaching job, and I’m basically constantly tired. Approximately 15-20% of the population is HSP (see here).

I do my best to stay as productive as the next person – I do my creative projects, spend time with family and friends, walk the dog, work on my creative business – but sometimes life just steps in and says ‘Enough for now! Time to rest!’

The key is being able to notice the signs, then having the courage to say no – to cancel appointments, to turn down invitations, to risk letting people down.

I’m sick with a cold at the moment, but you don’t need to have an illness to need time to rest. Sometimes it’s just feeling tired, overwhelmed, tearful, crabby or like you just want everyone to leave you alone.

So take the time to rest. Take all the time you need.

Self Empowerment

On sickness and blogging

I am sick at the moment. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. Just general crapness.

I have attempted to write an amazing blog post three times now. It’s not happening. Time to face the fact: today’s post is going to be pretty average.

But I guess by honouring where I am right now and being authentic, there may be something worth saying.

That’s one of the really hard things about doing this every day. And I guess this would apply to doing anything every day. Some days it just won’t work, for whatever reason. Maybe you run out of time. Maybe you have to take care of your kids or your partner or someone else, and there’s no room left for you at the end of it. Maybe you’re unwell *cough*.

I think it’s good to commit to doing something regularly.

I’ve seen dramatic changes in my life from journaling and blogging regularly. And it’s been really good to be pushed to do it every day. Mostly. Most of the time, I just need a wee nudge to get on with it and then I’m glad I did. Having the commitment encourages me to challenge myself.

And, occasionally, I don’t want to do it. And that’s also ok. Taking a break from doing something can also be rewarding and can help you to move towards your goal faster, without burning out.

So while I am still posting today because that’s the commitment I’ve made and I want to show up, I’m also going easy on myself. This isn’t brilliant writing. But I think it’s good to show that.

It’s good to let the world see me on my crap days too.

To see that I’m trying, that I’m willing to push forward – to see me as I am, now.

Because otherwise, how can we truly be vulnerable? How can we truly progress, if we can’t admit when we aren’t feeling good, when we need a little help, when things aren’t going to plan? How can we grow without accepting where we are?