Image: page from my visual journal January 2022
Lets begin 2023 together !
What you’ll find here are some of my thoughts and offerings on the idea of…
New Beginnings !!
So, inevitably this time of year tends to find us reflecting on one year drawing to a close and the prospect of a new one on the horizon. I’m not a huge fan of ‘New Year’s Resolutions’, in my book, they’re too much pressure and generally a way of setting ourselves up for failure. Why would we do that to ourselves ?! Last New year I offered a workshop about writing ourselves ‘Permission Slips’ , things we’d like to offer ourselves or invite into our lives, for the year ahead. I might treat myself to a new set of ‘Permission Slips’ for 2023.
So…What ways will you be finding to support your best self as we transition into 2023 ?
This can be a great time to review & reflect on what’s going well for us, what we feel we’ve accomplished, the things that we didn’t quite get around to (again ?! ) and how we’d like things to be, moving forward, any changes we might want to make, things to do more of, or less of ? What, on reflection, we might have chosen to do differently and what our ambitions dreams and wishes might be for the time ahead, for ourselves.
Below you will find my offering of a few Quotes, Suggestions, Questions & Prompts to get you thinking and hopefully journaling as we let go of the year behind us and think about how we want to move forward into the year ahead of us.
As always, all they are, are my ideas …I hope you find something to motivate you or get you thinking.
A little health warning ….!
Just sayin ! Before we ‘dig in’ it’s good to be aware that…
Questions can be dangerous.
They can take us right to the edge of what is known and comfortable
If we’re not ready to go to the edge of what we know and what is comfortable, then best not ask questions or go digging around. However, I believe you’re here because you’re a brave pioneer, willing to do what it takes to become the best version of yourself possible. But, we can also choose to treat these questions/suggestions and ideas as lightly as we want. No need to get any ‘heavier’ than we can manage right now. Personally I seem to have moved to and taken up residence on the edge and I have a terrible head for heights !
So, if you’re still here, lets get back on subject. New Beginnings. What are they, how do we make/start one, what is the process ?
No better way to kick off this thought process in my book than with a quote….
Nothing is absolute
Everything flies and goes away…
A great reminder, in case we need it (and don’t we all sometimes) that nothing is permanent. Fortunately this applies equally to the bad stuff as well as the good stuff. Nothing lasts forever, be it good or bad. So we can savour the good stuff when it shows up and be safe in the knowledge that the bad stuff won’t hang around forever. It too will change & move, it will fly and go away. I believe in the Buddhist tradition this is what is referred to as the principle of ‘Impermanence’ and it can be the foundation of a great mindfulness practice.
Now… this time of year, is a really great time to use our journal to help us to review the past year and maybe make some plans for the new one just about to start. That sounds much grander and complicated than it needs to be. What I mean, or suggest, is, now is a great opportunity to thumb through any journaling we may have done in the past few months and see what turns up.
Why ? Well, whenever I do this, I always, without fail, find myself surprised by something…something I have no memory of writing, an image or picture that still evokes strong feelings, something that still sounds or feels ‘spot on’, something I’m so grateful that I made a note of because, as time has passed, I’d completely forgotten about. Whatever it might be, it’s always an interesting process. So why not give it a try right now.
As you go through your old journal (whatever form it takes!)….
- Use a highlighter pen to mark anything that leaps out at you
- In your current journal…expand on something you find in the old one
- Photocopy a page/pages and stick it in your new journal
- Start a ‘Harvesting’ journal
What’s a ‘Harvesting Journal’ ?
I keep many different journals for different topics/projects etc. OK… I couldn’t resist doing a count of current active journals….
- My ‘Daily Journal’ (does what it says, right !?)
- A project Journal. I’m currently taking part in a year long journaling project. This is the journal I use for that
- Book Project Journal. I’m currently working out some ideas for writing a book. This is the Journal I’m working in for that
- Mentor Journal. I meet weekly with a journaling friend & mentor. I keep notes in this journal about our meetings
- Web site Journal. Where I write all my ideas and plans for the website
- Poetry Journal. Occasionally when I write in my journal, thoughts might emerge in poem form (I use the term loosely !) I’ve started gathering these together in one place
- My Harvesting Journal. A recent addition to the collection….
- My creative/visual journal. A journal full of painted pages, words and images
‘Harvesting’ is a term to describe the process of reviewing/looking through journals in order to remember, capture, to ‘Harvest’ the really juicy stuff. My Harvesting Journal might equally be called my Gem Journal or my Treasure Journal because it’s in here that I keep notes of all the really juicy stuff. Ideas or thoughts, some inspiration, a memory, things that I want to make sure I can find easily and work with in the future. So… when I do what I’m suggesting to you here. When I look through previous journals, sometimes, I come across things that I really, really don’t want to loose and may want to use or expand on at some point in the future, so I make a note of it, I transfer it into my ‘Harvesting Journal’.
- Where do you keep all your juicy stuff , ideas/thoughts, inspirations ?
- Do you think a Harvesting Journal is a useful idea for you ?
- What would you call it ?
- If you don’t keep a Journal yet…..START !!
- If you used to keep a Journal but stopped ….START AGAIN !!
- If you do keep a Journal…keep going !!
Keeping in mind our point, our focus of New Beginnings, if our Journals are a reflection of who we are ….when I look through my Journals…who do I see ?
You’re so right…I’m not calm
I am a fire
I am living
I am colour
I am essence
I am pleasure
I am rebellion
I am instinct
I am skin
I am revolution
I am anything but calm
This quote by Frida Kahlo created a shift in my thinking about who I am. Before I read this, I equated ‘calm’ with positive and ‘good’ attributes. It’s good to be calm right ? People tell us to ‘calm down’ as if not being calm is a bad thing. Being calm is what we should aspire to…right? But I love Frida Kahlo’s work and she has quite rightly become something of an icon, someone to who many, many people look to for inspiration. From this quote, we can see that she clearly didn’t identify as ‘calm’, she saw in herself all these other amazing qualities which she courageously gave reign to in her Art and in her life. I admire her ability to recognise & embrace those elements of her nature (and I love the idea of embracing them in my own). I imagine they feel less ‘safe’ than ‘calm’ does. But where does calm get us and where might we get if we embraced all our qualities ? What do we need to embrace about ourselves in order to get to where we want to, in order to live the life we were meant to live and to be the best possible version of ourselves ?
- Who are we telling ourselves we ought to be ?
- What are the stories we are telling ourselves ?
- What are the assumptions we make about ourselves and our lives that we are not questioning ?
- What might be possible if I knew and embraced the variety of qualities that make me, me ?
- Make a list of all the different qualities or attributes you identify with
Now that you’ve made your list …what, if any, action are you going to take ? What might you do differently? What might you do more/less of?
Here’s another one…and I guess this one brings us to the core of our point of New Beginnings. What am I choosing and what am I looking to change ? I can’t remember where I came across this little gem but it’s currently written up on the wall of my studio because I need to keep reading it…
What you are not changing…
You are choosing.
(read that again)
I’m guessing that the majority of us have elements or parts of our lives that we are less satisfied with, less happy about. Areas that we wish were different in some way or more fulfilling. I guess that ‘what you are not changing, you are choosing’, is a reminder for me that I have agency, that I can make choices, I can make changes. If I don’t like how something is, if I want something more, or something different, I need to take action, to make changes and that lack of action and not making changes, is me choosing to keep things the same.
- What I am choosing….
- What I am working on changing…
A gentle reminder here…remember, there is no right or wrong response. Just notice what thoughts and feelings might come up for you and be gentle with yourself. We tend to be our own worst critic, so we don’t need any help in that department !!
Keeping my Journals is one of the key ways that I take action. It’s where I dare to let my thoughts, ideas & dreams breathe, where I give them space to grow, change and develop. It’s a fundamental part of the process of externalising, noticing, becoming aware. My Journal is not a work of art and it’s not a literary masterpiece (anything but!) but it is a great tool for helping me as I try to become the best version of me I can be. Remember…
There is no beginning too small
Henry David Thoreau
If keeping or using a Journal in some way speaks to you, why not listen? Of course resistance to something new or different can be difficult but perhaps look on it as an action you can take in order to take responsibility for your own well being. Maybe start by identifying & naming the ‘struggle’, write it down, externalise it. This can help create distance between you and ‘it’ (the struggle) and you can give yourself some gentle ‘permissions’ to help you move forward.
If you used to keep a journal then stopped, that’s fine too. There’s nothing wrong with you, it’s normal for us to sometimes disconnect from any practice, be it journaling or yoga or any other practice. Give yourself permission to acknowledge the struggle and allow yourself to be flexible with it. We need to strike a careful balance between accountability (showing up) and making our own rules depending on what serves us best. Non of us get things ‘right’ all of the time. in spite of how things may appear…we’re all making this up as we go along !
- How is shame showing up to sabotage our work (any work !) when our ‘real self’ fails to measure up to our ‘fantasy self’ ?
Any plan that requires you to become a good person in order for it to work is not a good plan !
something I picked up from a yoga workshop on ‘Mindset’
Some final suggestions….
To set you on your journaling way, why not try some (or all) of the following as you think about New Beginnings, review the year passed and think about the one to come.
- Start a new journal today.
It doesn’t have to be expensive or flashy. If you haven’t got a journal, use whatever scraps of paper you can find, Literally! Use the back of discarded Christmas wrapping paper, hey… it’d be great for the environment ! Later when you’ve had the opportunity to obtain a journal of some sort, you can stick these pages in it. If you do have a new journal, think about NOT starting at the beginning. Personally I found this little nugget of advice very liberating, it helped me sustain a regular practice when I started taking journaling more seriously. I was able to let go of ‘order’ and ‘neatness’ or anything having to make any sense to anyone else. The focus shifted to just getting it on the page, somehow, in some form. Of course, starting at the beginning is fine too !
- Try different styles
Writing is the obvious one of course, so try different pens, pencils, find your favourites. Do you want it to be neat or do your thoughts come so quickly that you need to scrawl them down equally quickly in order not to loose anything. Use stamps, rubber stamping is great fun, it can slow your writing down and makes it a much more mindful practice.
Use letters and words you’ve found in magazines, stick these in your journal. In the same way, use images that you’ve found that speak to you in some way, remember it doesn’t have to beautiful, make sense to anyone else or be a work of art !
Think about all the ways you could add colour to your journal, paint, for example. I love to obliterate the blank page by simply covering the whole thing with paint before anything else. I will often add colour several pages at a time, with paint, so that they’re ‘primed’ ,as it were, for me to add words and/or images to later.
- Start Harvesting
If you’ve been journaling for a while, think about reading back through some of it and seeing if there are some things that surprise you, keep turning up again and again or that you forgot all about. Do you want to revisit any of that again ? Does any of it strike you as really important or meaningful ? These are the sorts of things I copy into my Harvesting Journal, my ‘juicy bits’ as I call them.
- Looking for more inspiration ?
If you’re raring to go but looking for more ideas, subjects or ‘jumping off’ places for your journaling, there is so much out there! But why not start here, on my website. Take a look at the ‘QUOTES’ page where I add a new quote each week, or you can find more prompts here on this ‘PROMPTS‘ page of my website. You could also check out one of the free Journaling Projects on the ‘FREE STUFF‘ page.
I do hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and that its got your journaling juices flowing on the subject of NEW BEGINNINGS. I’d love to know your thoughts. You can email me through the ‘CONTACT ME‘ page or leave a comment in our Face book group ‘Creative Journaling…more than words‘.
I’ll leave you with a final image. It’s quite personal so regard it with care, but for me, I think it’s also a great example of both ‘Harvesting‘ & the concept expressed in the ‘What your not changing, your choosing’ quote from earlier. In this page of my journal, I was working with the idea of Creative Resistance, what it is, how it shows up, how it gets in the way and how I can work to change those things. I started a new page, obliterated the blank page with paint, and went back through earlier journaling that I had done where I found these separate pieces, I either copied them or tore them out and brought them all together here to help me make sense of how to break through creative resistance.
Thanks for showing up…
Next months theme will be ‘Mindset’
Here’s my mini journal for January with all of the quotes we’ve used