Hi! I’m Caroline, and I’m the owner of Owner of Awaken Arts and Wellness. I love journals. The empty pages, pristine covers, and library scented spines offer such promise as I slip them into my cart despite them never being on my shopping list. There is something about those pages that whispers: if you just buy me, all your problems will be solved…
It doesn’t seem to matter that I know I have at least a dozen half filled journals that I have given up on because I forgot to index them, or I don’t like how the paper buckled after I painted on one page, or I simply forgot that I already had it. Those journals weren’t perfect, they had to go. This will be the one that sticks, I know it!
I take it home, and as I walk through the garage with dried leaves and spider webs clinging to the corners, step over a clean sock that didn’t quite make it into the folding pile that is really more of a mountain, and flop on to the spot on my couch that has really become more of a nest, I already feel the sense of letdown. I bought the journal, why am I not organized yet? Why is my life still overwhelming, and chaotic, and out of control?!
Because life is unsolvable. That’s why.
Join me in bringing more Art and Wellness into your journaling practice.
There is no list of tasks that, once complete, will result in a perfect, tidy, and predictable life. It’s not you, it’s life.
So, I take a breath, leaning comfortably into my blanket covered corner of the sofa, and I slow down. The understanding that a journal won’t solve my problems brings a sense of relief from a pressure that I alone am responsible for bringing into my heart.
I let go of the expectations, and I allow myself to do what comes naturally – I journal, grab some colorful pens, a pile of washi tape, and a handful of stickers, and my old half full journal and I get to work.
Using my journal to guide my thoughts, to process my feelings, to organize my mind, and to express my experience helps me find clarity. I include to do lists, stream of consciousness ramblings, and sketches of projects that may or may not ever leave the page. It is messy, and beautiful, and real.
Assess what you find most useful about journaling
You are the expert on what you need. Review your previous journals, diaries, blogs, and sketchbooks. What patterns do they have in common (pages numbers, use of art, color or black and white, headers)? Which types of journaling do you find yourself going back to over and over (list making, goal setting, habit tracking, stream of consciousness writing)? Find what has been working for you and start there.
Identify what you find more difficult about journaling
Nobody knows your regrets better than you. Where in your journal do you tend to move on to the next (after the first mistake, when life is stressful, when you’re close to the last page but not quite there)?
What amazing ideas never end up being used (month long habit trackers, color coded reading lists, poetry corner)? Identify these difficulties and allow yourself to let go of whatever is calling you to keep going down that road. Choose to go a different direction with your next journal, and see how far you’ll go.
Make room for mistakes, errors, and messes
Every page should not be color coordinated, perfectly spaced, tidy, and thorough. Accept and make room for the mistakes that come with being genuine, human, and real. When you write “Teusday,” feel free to leave it that way. Nobody is grading this. Better yet, put a huge red circle around it and add a smiley face note to yourself next to it! Messes happen, and when you expect perfection you are setting yourself up for disappointment. What would it be like if you were to release yourself from the expectation of perfection in your journal? In your life?
Celebrate what you create
Journaling is art! If it feels creative, it is art! Your lists are art, your calendar is art, your trackers are art, your doodles are art, and your notes about the day are art. Celebrate the bravery and freedom you embody as you lean into your creativity. Consider sharing photos of your favorite pages to your friends, family, or social media. Discuss what you learn about yourself and your life as you flip through the pages of past journals. Allow your journal to be a snapshot of your mind, and celebrate the wild and wonderful thoughts that flow through you.
Accept inspiration from others
Like all great artists, you will see the creations of others and have the opportunity to invite one of two feelings: inferiority and judgment because you feel less than, or connection and camaraderie because you are a member of the same tribe of art makers! Accept the feelings of connection and camaraderie, let the excitement you feel seeing how others journal inspire you to bring that energy back to your own pages! Creativity is the blending of what you have within you and what you experience without, so allow yourself to find inspiration from others.
I still love picking up a new journal, flipping through the pages, and feeling the promise of those clean and perfect blank slates. I can still hear the whisper: buy me, and all your problems will disappear… What a boring life it would be without some messes.
Caroline is the owner and operator of Awaken Arts and Wellness, a company dedicated to helping bring Arts and Wellness back into your Self Care routine. With 5 years experience providing mental health therapy as a Social Worker in schools, Caroline brings her love of art, journaling, and creativity to each wellness initiative. Monthly themes (gratitude, self love, magic) are curated to meet your social emotional needs throughout the year, and each Kit includes small batch Aromatherapy supplies (candles, soaps, bath bombs), art supplies, and guided journaling pages and stickers!
Want to get started with some Creative Journaling now? Check out the Creative Journaling Booster Kit, featuring a journal, guided pages, and stickers to get you started!