Friday, January 30, 2015

Journaling as a spiritual practice

I have been a diarist for most of my life.

It started with me as a little kid making words on paper, and maybe adding pictures.
Scribbles and doodles that did not get saved, but helped me to think more clearly about the world and myself.

The angst of middle school resulted in numerous lined spiral notebooks filled with sorrows and joys, thoughts and feelings splashed all over the pages.
In high school, much of my writing had to do with friends, boys, the group, or a lack of a group. (I destroyed those journals when I went off to college, I was so appalled at them. Yes, I wish I hadn't.)

Thirty years later, I still use my journal for some of this psychological spilling.  But it is much more now.
I record desires and hopes.
I wish for better habits, goals, discipline, reason.
I sometimes still do let it all get splashed out onto the page, but mostly I use my journal to redirect those rants into positive affirmations.
To find the inner truth of my sub-conscious and let it speak to me.
These books are a beautiful record of where I have come.

The last few years I have been making my own journals from 22" x 30" watercolor paper.
Making the book and binding it myself makes it so much more mine.
I can really beat up the pages with collage, ink, watercolor, penwork, fiber and ephemera, lots of words.

I am excited to be starting a new project, a year-long art journal workbook I will print and pubish. This will be a starting point for someone just exploring this practice.
and it will be a get-back-to-it point for anyone whose art journaling process needs a jump start.

Sometimes I wonder what this shelf full of 30 years of journals will come to.  Maybe a landfill, yes, but more importantly, it's what these books have helped ME come to.
They have helped me live a much more focused life.

I know one part of my life work is to share that with the world.

"As a day well spent procures a happy sleep, so a life well employed procures a happy death."
- Leonardo da Vinci

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


In the history of discovery, scientists, philosophers, artists and poets have something in common, they start with a problem, and they make some new connection which solves this problem.

So many great advancements are accidents, while someone is looking for something else, they stumble upon a whole new way of looking at, or doing something.

*Alexander Fleming, while on vacation, left his lab dishes dirty and a new fungus grew which killed all the bacteria - penicillin was discovered.
*The microwave oven was invented when a scientist investigating rays had a chocolate bar in his pocket that melted.
*A Swiss scientist found burrs attached to his dog's fur, and developed velcro from this idea.
*Charles Goodyear accidentally dropped his rubber onto a hot stove, and vulcanizing rubber was invented, changing the durability of rubber, and the whole industrial system.
*In September 1940, 4 boys and their dog in the Dordogne region of France went into a cave following the legend of buried treasure. What they found, the prehistoric cave art of Lascaux, was one of the most magnificent finds of neolithic art in the world.

So, it makes sense to ask a question with an open-ended answer. To let the various connections and fragments happen as they will, and see what answer emerges. This is one magnificent way to use your journal.

Do you have a pressing question for your life?
What is the most authentic work I could be doing?
What is the best way for me to use my skills?
Is there something I could do to create a life that feels more fulfilling?
I have this particular struggle, what is something I could do to help me through it? How can I change my perspective on this one problem?
Am I where I am meant to be?

I have been reading Zen Buddhism, and one deep understanding I am getting is that being in a Zen state is to believe that where ever you are, at that moment, is exactly where you are meant to be; that whatever you are doing at this moment, is exactly what you are supposed to be doing.

So put together the serendipity of discovering something new and unexpected along with the idea that you are exactly where you are supposed to be at this very moment.
What do you get?

I don't know the answer for you, but you can ask your journal.
Jot some possibilities, whatever comes to your mind. Create a collage of images that appeal to you. Play with some answers, even the most outlandish ones. See where this takes you. You just might find a revelation that you were looking for, but could not uncover because you were assuming you knew the answer already, but that answer was not quite right.

You just might connect two or three things in your life; people or events or projects, that will be determine your future.  You might discover yourself.

Good luck!

"I think on some level, you do your best things when you're a little off-balance, a little scared. You've got to work from mystery, from wonder, from not knowing."
--Willem Dafoe

"Each person is an enigma. You're a puzzle not only to yourself but also to everyone else, and the great mystery of our time is how we penetrate this puzzle."
 --Theodore Zeldin

Monday, January 5, 2015

Get going, it's 2015

This is a page from Egon Schiele's journal.
What are you working on?

"We’ve gotta carve out some time and space from the day to day noise…the laundry, the groceries, the homework, the job, the spouse, the friends, the television to go away.
Live and learn?
How about Isolate and Create."
--Chase Jarvis