Posts tagged journaling
Happy Solstice

Happy Winter Solstice to you.

It’s the longest night of the year and the official beginning of winter (though around here it’s been feeling like winter for a few months now).

I hope you are able to take some time for rest, renewal and creativity today and in the days ahead. I know how chaotic the holidays can get (if we let them). Maybe you’ve been working on taking things slow like I’ve been trying to do?

And maybe you’ve been sneaking in some time for making. Gifts, yes, but also for yourself. My sketchbook has been the perfect place for a few minutes of creative escape.

If you think you’d like to escape into a sketchbook, too and are looking for a little inspiration I have a new Skillshare class* called Defeat the Blank Page designed to help you discover inspiration when you don’t know what to do with the empty page.

If you’re still making gifts and you’re looking for ideas, Bonnie Christine shared some easy DIYs on her blog the other day. And Mountain Rose Herbs recently posted a collection of their best recipes of 2018, many of which are perfect for gifting (roll-on perfumes with essential oils? Yes, please!). Want to craft your own wrapping paper? Alisa Burke rounded up some of her favorite wrapping paper tutorials the other day on her blog.

But don’t forget to take some time for yourself, too. Brewing up a cup of hot spiced chai and curling up with a good book feels like the essence of luxury to me. You?

And my journal has been calling to me lately a bit more than usual, too. Spilling my thoughts onto the page. It’s one easy bit of self-care that anyone can fit into their days.

As the year draws to an end I like to think about all I’ve accomplished and to plan for the new year. I’ve been thinking about my word for 2018 and what I want my word to be in 2019. The pages of my journal happily accept it all.

I’ll share more of my thoughts about 2018 next week.

A Pair of Jasmine Flowers Opened on My Plant This Week and Fragranced Almost the Whole House

Until then, I’m sending you light and love. No matter how or if you celebrate in this coming week, I hope you are able to discover each day’s little joys. Thank you for spending time here with me, reading my words.


*You can try Skillshare for 2 months free. You’ll get access to all of my classes and thousands more from teachers around the world. There’s no commitment and you can cancel any time.

Honoring Seasons, Transitions and Change

Last week the weather shifted dramatically from summer to full-on autumn. Suddenly the days were cold. Dark. Wet. I layered on sweaters and hats and scarves. We turned on the furnace and brewed pot after pot of hot tea.

I felt lethargic, melancholy. It was hard to get out of bed in the morning. I made soup and baked bread. I wrote Joy Lists. But nothing seemed to help. I was uninspired and discouraged in my art, too. All I wanted to do was snuggle beneath my quilts and crocheted blankets to wait for the sun to come out again.

My Black and White Rescue Cats in Their Usual Place in the Chair in My Studio

I scolded myself for feeling that way. You are safe. You are healthy. It’s just the changing of the seasons. There’s no reason to feel so dejected.

But then I started to think a bit more about what a change like this means. In my garden the first hard frost will kill some of my plants. Others will lose their leaves and wait, suspended, till light and warmth return. The insects and animals that don’t tough it out through winter either leave or hibernate or die.

This change of season is a profound change.

Flowers Cut from My Autumn Garden in the Cold Rain

As an artist almost all of my inspiration comes directly from my garden. Very soon all of my outdoor plants and flowers will be crumpled to nothing. Of course I’ll feel a loss when the gardening season slips away.

So what’s the answer?

First, I’m giving myself permission for my feelings. No more chiding myself for mourning the summer.

And I’m sending out extra thanks for each small grace that lingers. The herbs in the glass on the windowsill. The freshly picked vegetables on my plate. The flowers on the table.

Dahlias from My Garden and Mini Pumpkins from My Mom's Garden on my Dining Room Table

My journal is always a place of solace. Whether I’m feeling good or bad or uncertain, putting pen to paper always helps. Sometimes the words flow for page after page. Sometimes I only manage a few sentences. The ritual of sitting down with myself and my journal is one of the best forms of self-care I know.

I’m also trying to slow down and pay attention to the beauties of autumn. The changing colors. The acorns on the sidewalk. The mushrooms appearing overnight.

The other day Rachel Wolf posted a beautiful piece on her blog about the healing we find when we venture away from the warmth of the fire and out into the medicine of nature. Although I live in town, I find healing walking beneath the trees even when there’s concrete under my feet. I can bring home pockets filled with acorns and interesting leaves. I might notice a bluejay hunting for seeds in a nodding sunflower head or happen upon a charm* of goldfinches trilling as they swoop away from someone’s spent coneflower patch. Snuggling beneath quilts has its place, but I need to make sure I venture outside, too.

Change is one thing we can always count on. The seasons change predictably. Other changes and transitions take us by surprise. Change can come as a welcome friend. Or arrive as an irritation. Sometimes change can be devastating.

No matter the type of change, we need to give ourselves room for it. Even if our busy lives don’t always seem to allow it. I’ve been feeling a change coming in my art. I don’t yet know what that change will look like, but I’m being patient as I figure it out. Like with all changes I need to remember to honor the process, the uncertainty, the discomfort.

I don’t know what you’re going through at this moment, if you’re in a moment of change or transition. I’m wishing you gentleness and grace. Give yourself time and space. Be patient and honor the season you’re in.

*aren’t collective nouns fun? A group of goldfinches is called a charm and also a drum, a troubling or a chirm. There are many resources on the internet and in print to help you find these magical words. I usually just google it and see what comes up.

11 Ways to Invite More Joy Into Your Life

When is the last time that you were filled with joy? How happy are you right now?

I often talk about joy. The joy I find in the magic of nature. The joy I find in creating and sharing art. I talk about keeping Joy Lists and I call myself a "Joy Collector".

Of course, like everyone, I don't always feel joyful, but I do believe I have the power to invite more joy into my life.

Here are some ideas of how to do it:

  • Get outside! When the weather is beautiful, take advantage of it. When the weather is not good, do what you can (wear warm boots, take an umbrella...) to make it bearable. Taking daily walks is a great way to make this happen. Bonus if you're walking with a friend and/or a dog (or two).

Walking with Greyhounds
  • Pay attention. When I am fully present I am able to feel the most joy. Be aware of what sensations you're feeling. Keep your eyes open to the beauties and magic that surround you. There is so much magic in this world (like this and this).

  • Surround yourself with flowers. Plant a garden if you have the space for it (you'll have the added bonus of garden visitors like birds and butterflies, too). Pots on a balcony, a windowbox or a houseplant on the windowsill are great if you don't have a yard. If growing real flowers is a challenge for you, treat yourself to cut flowers (your local flower farmer will thank you) or cultivate a "garden" of floral art or fabric in your home

  • Limit screen time. This can be a hard one, but I think it's important. Especially if you find yourself feeling bad by comparing your life to what you see online. And with your eyes on a screen you're likely to miss some of the magic that’s going around you, too.

  • Write in a journal. Even if what you're writing in your journal is not joyful, connecting with yourself, how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking can help you to release negativity and invite joy. A journal gives you the freedom to be 100% yourself. It's a wonderful place to show some self-love and for pep-talks. Joy and Gratitude Lists fit perfectly between the covers or a journal, too.

  • Read or listen to a good book. Books and stories have always been my thing. Getting lost in the magic of words is one of life's greatest pleasures. It's why I ended up a librarian before I started painting. Thanks to public libraries everyone has access to books (and movies and magazines and newspapers and music...). Audiobooks are great for when your eyes and hands are busy (in Lilla Rogers' Creativebug class she recommends them as a way to block out our inner critics). Podcasts are another option. I recently discovered the podcast Levar Burton Reads and am looking forward to having him read to me.*

  • Reach out and make connections. Spend time with people you like, with people who laugh and make you feel good. If possible, limit your time around negative people and do your best not to let them bring you down. Cherish each day with those you love. Our days together are finite.

  • Share your life with a pet (or a few!). Matthias and I have two cats and two dogs. Each and every day they make us laugh. Each and every day they share snuggles and hugs and love. There are many, many homeless animals waiting to be adopted into loving homes. My days would be so much less joyful without my boys.

Rescue Cats Bring So Much Joy Into My Life
  • SLOW DOWN. This one is hard for me. It's a message the universe often has to shout. I'm often in a rush. Being in a hurry, putting pressure on myself to get on to the next task makes me anxious and it keeps me from fully enjoying what I'm doing. When I get to the end of a day and wonder just was it that I did all day, I know I've been going too fast. Even when life gets busy, I know I can slow myself down. It takes awareness. I’m working on it.

  • Learn something new. As I mentioned the other day, trying new (or different) things is good for your creativity. Learning something new is joyful, too. Bonus points if it includes making something with your hands.

  • Take a break. It's important to give yourself a rest. Take time off. Let go of obligations for a while. Wind down and regenerate.

Find Joy in the Little Things

What about you? What ways do you invite more joy into your life?