Connection, Harmony, & Art Journaling

This is a story of how, once upon a time in a land far far away, art journaling helped save my life. 

For a human being not really in touch with her own emotions, the flowing paint is like a healing tonic.

I took this Selfie to mark a moment in 2013. It was a moment in time for me when I knew the next step clearly, and the unknown path ahead felt like  free flowing trust

I took this Selfie to mark a moment in 2013. It was a moment in time for me when I knew the next step clearly, and the unknown path ahead felt like free flowing trust

It just seems like a land far away, and it was actually only about 4 years ago. As I look at this photo of me now, I can remember the precise moment captured here, and how I felt. I felt a sense of resolve and relief mixed with bold, hopeful uncertainty. I was scared. But there was no doubt. It was an important instant and, just like that, my life changed. I had no idea what might be ahead of me, but my choice was clear. I was now going to be a woman in my mid 40's recreating my life. My commitment to myself and trust in the flow of life was greater than my fear.

In this photo, you can see a snippet of art by Mandy Steward <"Think of me in the howl" >who is an amazing author and artist and life observer and imaginator creator.  www.mandysteward.com

In this photo, you can see a snippet of art by Mandy Steward <"Think of me in the howl" >who is an amazing author and artist and life observer and imaginator creator. www.mandysteward.com

I had been discovering this thing called "art journaling" for about a year. I was completely captivated with the process, and the paper, and the paints, and the textures, and the brushes...and combining it all with the feelings, the words. It was like playing on the page with color and thought and emotion. I was thrilled with the idea of just sitting with "art" with no agenda or expectation or need to create something specific. This flowed gradually into a visual journal of my days that chronicled life...it was part planning and part just exploring whatever came up. Art journaling turned into "right brain planning" and lots of amazing self-awareness and life learning flowed through online experiences. It was fun and emotionally energizing. I purchased my first black moleskin journal, a large one with blank pages.

I created several journals from altered books. My kitchen table looked like a chaotic mess. I kept several journals, glue sticks and paint pens, brushes and tiny bottles of paint,  with me wherever I went.  I joined a couple of inspiring online communities that shared prompts and mailings. I'm grateful for the group of women who shared pieces of themselves through their art journals and inspired me to do the same.

<One of the most amazing places online to explore visual planning and art journaling wonderfulness is www.rightbrainplanner.com. Teresa is an incredible guide.>

I didn't understand it at the time that I was in it so deeply--the art journaling and discovering the possibilities of playing with paints and collage and journaling in this way--but the process I was in was a lot like meditation. It quieted my mind. It also did something that I've since come to understand is very critical to living my life on my own terms...it turned up the volume of my inner knowing. That quiet voice of my authentic Self grew louder the more I visually explored and documented through art journaling.

 

And of course there are other things that can quiet the mind...like running, playing a musical instrument, yoga, dancing, gardening...activities as varied as there are individuals. But, with art journaling, the process offers not just a quieting of mind, but a vehicle for the spontaneous, visual offering of unseen energies and wisdom. A connection with the unseen, the true Self that then flows into manifestation of the inner world that can be readily digested . For me, this quieting of my mind combined with visual feedback on the paper is very powerful.

This may sound too mystical than it needs to be...but that's the essence of it.

The process puts me in contact with that deeper part of myself...beyond my mind that wants to figure everything out, beyond the voices of the world...and in touch with the divine that is always there and always loving.

It creates connection and harmony. It aligns me with my Self.

Really recognizing and feeling my emotions and allowing them to be my inner compass is challenging for me. I've gotten better at it. I'm actually very good at other people's emotions and thought forms, but my own are less known to me...unless I really pay attention. And as I've gotten more aware about emotions and thoughts and all the connections that make us the beings we are in this physical world, I've realized what a powerful tool art journaling is for me. It saved my life.

Now I am always an artist.  With glue sticks and paint brushes and words flowing off my kitchen table and out of bags and drawers...with my horses and chickens, on my desk at work...because it makes me energized and a more authentic version of me.

Now I am always an artist.

With glue sticks and paint brushes and words flowing off my kitchen table and out of bags and drawers...with my horses and chickens, on my desk at work...because it makes me energized and a more authentic version of me.

As I look back on the last 4 years, I see very clearly how this process guided me. I can see in hind sight how it shaped my new, unfolding life. From confusion to clarity, from fear to love, from responding to creating.

Julie Rhem