31 Day Art Journaling and Blogging Challenge

Join me on January 1st 2017 for my next 31 day challenge. I will be blogging and/or art journaling every day for the month of January in order to promote art journaling, return to my hiatus from blogging regularly, and to develop my art journal lab online course which I plan to release on my website in 2017. 

This creative challenge combines Art Journaling and Blogging. Meaning, if you choose to join this challenge, you can pick one of these daily practices, or both—alternating between the two, however you feel inclined to do it. In some cases your art journaling practice might become a digitized blog post. 

I imagine your reasons for joining this challenge will be varied. Some may use it as a way to get back into blogging or to start your first blog. For some, it may be a very private practice of meditative writing and drawing. And for others, it might a wild time to experiment, with no goal other than to unleash your creativity.

For me it is about four things: 1) To get back into blogging 2) To develop and my material for the upcoming art journal lab online course 3) To promote and teach art journaling 4) To attract new readers to my blog

What is art journaling?

Art Journaling is a process that combines visual art (drawing, painting, collage, or photography) and text. Art Journaling can consist of intimate journal entries, poetry, doodling, hand lettering, free associative writing, list-making. Putting those two aspects of our experience together on the same page: visual and verbal is the basis for all art journaling.

My version of art journaling combines techniques, theories, and assignments from my work as an expressive arts therapist and creativity coach. I also have been teaching Art Journal Lab, a class that combines these techniques, in Todos Santos for the past five years. I teach people the tools, philosophy and basic skills they need to interact with the different parts of self, which I refer to as the inner family of self. I create a structure that makes it possible to connect to the invisible parts that we feel, but don’t always acknowledge or express. I have a Masters’s in Counseling Psychology, with a focus on Expressive Arts Therapy, meaning I use drama, dance, music, writing and visual art as a form of therapeutic intervention with the goal of integrating the personality, healing trauma and practicing new ways of being. I also teach creativity, not only for all types of artists, but for anyone who wants to practice a more empowered, creative and compassionate way of being in the world. I believe the most important relationship we have is with ourselves, but this is often the relationship that gets shoved by the wayside as we tend to prioritize everything else: our spouse or partner, our children, our work, our home, our family of origin. I believe if we cannot engage in a creative, conscious, curious and compassionate way with ourselves, we are not living up to our full potential and cannot offer the full version of ourselves to anything we do. The more we know ourselves, and ultimately, accept and love ourselves, the more good we can do for our families, friends, communities and our world. It’s an inside out approach—which is the reverse of what we have been trained to do in our culture.

You do not have to be a trained artist or writer to do art journaling. Anyone who can pick up a pen or pencil and has a blank book can do art journaling. There are no special supplies that are necessary, though I will be sharing some of my favorite tools on the blog. My mission in life for a while now, has been to show how everyone is creative, and that the arts were meant to be used by all of humanity as a tool to discover the soul, and to engage in life in a more balanced, compassionate way. Through our engagement with the arts, we are able to make space for expressing the darkness, the unconscious parts of ourself, instead of acting those parts out on others. It is particularly this, this engagement with the shadow (the parts of us we do not see or do now want to see, or feel) that is the creative gold of this work. When we have the courage to bring our light of consciousness to our own shadow, we are able to unearth our previously buried psychic energy so we can make use of even our darkest pain.

I know this not only from the work I have done with my students and clients, but also from my own personal journey, which I recently shared in my talk at Women Awakening, the first women’s summit in Todos Santos. In my talk, I shared my philosophy, artwork, music and personal story, about what it means to be yourself, which is about being, and ultimately loving, all your selves. Sharing this talk was a personal revelation for me, as I discovered what it felt like to open myself up and share authentically, weaving my professional, personal, intellectual and artistic life in one space. My goal, recently, has been to integrate these disparate parts of myself. I have intuitively felt that this way we separate our different selves is not just a problem for me, but for many others, and especially for women, who struggle so much with disappearing into our roles. The goal is not to disappear into any one role, but to bring your whole self to every role you do, so you have access to all your selves whenever you need them. I believe this is the goal of human development. And through our working with what we are, in an honest way, we also access our spiritual power. It has been my experience that when we contact our soul, spirit arrives, aiding that process.

What is Blogging?

As many of us know, the reasons and ways to blog can vary greatly. It can be a tool to promote business, a way to keep track of your travels or other kinds of adventures, or a way to promote and share your creative work, political ideas, or simply to connect with your inner life. Whether it is for your business, for personal, or political expression, I believe a successful blog always stems from personal truth. If your business or your politics has no degree of personal connection for you, then perhaps you already have a great topic to or journal or blog about why this is so.

 

The most difficult and most important part of what it means to blog, or even journal, is that it is regular, preferably daily. It is also, as many bloggers will attest, the key to success. (Getting readers to read your blog.) From my experiences with daily practices, which is something I promote in my art journal lab class, as well as personally, I have come to believe in the amazing power of creating a daily practice, especially something that helps you connect with yourself, with the invisible world, feelings and other parts of us that we usually work hard to avoid, push down or unconsciously act out on others. These types of inward-directed daily practices keep us holistically healthy because they keep us connected to something true and deep in us.  These kinds of daily practices have helped me out depression, anxiety, a sense of loss, relationship issues, and more. They have helped me enormously with my creativity as an artist and as a mom and human being—when you do something daily, it forces you to be more creative with it—otherwise you get bored. We tend to look for new ways, new approaches when we know we have to do it everyday. 

So, use the term blogging however you feel connected to it—my definition is as follows:

To share words and images (hopefully self-generated) online about any topic, as long as it has has meaning or importance to you personally. One additional other feature: it must be dated for it to be a blog post, otherwise it is just a webpage. The date makes it time-connected, and therefore, applicable to a certain moment of time for you. This is the same for art journaling.

I love blogging because it delivers a sense of immediacy that appeals to the performer in me. Blogging is a digital performance—the act of baring a personal truth, an art piece, or just a slice of life, with others, sometimes strangers, sometimes not, brings me a certain thrill. If it doesn’t feel thrilling, a tiny bit risky, I usually don’t blog about it. For each of us the thrill will come for different reasons, in different areas. What is risky for me may not feel risky for you. And so it is very much up to you to come up with your own topics to write about. A blog post can be very simple or complex. There is no rule in this department. A blog post might simply be sharing a photograph you took that day and sharing a little caption or small story or sentence that explains it. Other times a blog post might be a highly informative piece that is designed to help and/or inside others learn a specific skill (EG: this post you are reading now.) Some blog posts have taken me 15 minutes to create, others have taken four hours. Neither is better than the other—the beauty of blogging is that it keeps going. We can’t get to hung up on our last blog post, because we are already thinking about our next one! This represents the natural flow of life. We cannot afford to get perfectionistic about our daily practices, they are designed for us to make mistakes, and to learn and grow from them, that is why they are practices. If you think of your blog or your art journaling as a practice and it will help you let go of the inner critic.

Those are the reasons I create these challenges--creativity, connection, personal truth. It is most certainly a challenge to do something everyday with out fail. But it is also very rewarding. 

I can't wait to see what it might do for you!

If you want to join me in this challenge, subscribe above with your email.