Category Archives: Art journals

Journal Flip Through – Pink hair girl

When I painted the cover for this journal, I hated it! I was so disappointed that the girl didn’t come out exactly as I imagined her. I shoved the painting into a folder and forgot about it. Later, when I made this journal, I hunted through my paintings and was astonished to find this one. I totally fell in love with it. It’s now one of my favourite faces ever. Go figure. I think I just had to let go of my initial vision so I could see her for who she really is.

One of the things I love about having a face on the front of my journal, is that it really feels like the book is my best friend – a particularly lovely, glamorous, pink-haired friend. Very cool.

When I made this book I was doing a clean out of all my old papers. I had so many things I didn’t want to get rid of – newspaper clippings, photos of me as a child, pretty patterned paper that was too pretty to discard. I couldn’t throw them out. But they were just gathering dust in a folder. The great thing about journaling with this method I use, is that I prepare the pages ahead of time by collaging in found papers, and it was the perfect way to use up all those lovely pieces from my past. The book is full of happy memories from long ago as a result.

Have a look through it in this video if you like. And if you want to learn to make and use a book like this, check out my e-course, Make The Book Of Your Dreams.

Life without toxic relationships

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Image: Artwork text of black paint saying, ‘YOU ARE ALLOWED to walk away from TOXIC PEOPLE’. The background is an urban grunge textured wall in black, dripping light brown paint and a slash of a red paint.

One advantage to having my entire life wiped out and being forced to start over in almost every single aspect, is that I can rebuild it much, much more carefully. The thing I am doing differently this time is choosing the people who will be in it according to whether or not they have empathy, and whether or not they are manipulative. This article, How to never get involved with an abuser again, changed my life. It says to look at the way a person acts, not what they say, and don’t accept any excuses for hurtful behaviour.

When I read the list of signs that a person lacks empathy, I recognise people I have known. Here are some examples:

  • Inability to imagine how their words and actions may affect you;
  • Isn’t interested in finding ways to soothe your worries;
  • Becomes angry or looks at you with a blank face when you cry or get emotional;
  • Is hurtfully blunt and casually critical, and when you become upset, tells you they are ‘just being honest’. Honesty without kindness is cruelty.
  • Talks at length about a topic that clearly bores you, without noticing;
  • Brings up sensitive topics after you’ve asked them to stop;
  • Expects instant forgiveness;
  • Invalidates your thoughts, experiences, ideas and concerns;
  • Neglecting or ignoring you when you are sick;
  • Judgemental;
  • Believes they are always right;
  • Expects you to accomodate their needs and schedule, without regard for yours;
  • Doesn’t ask you how your day was or how your doctor’s appointment went;
  • Self-centredness – seems to have plenty of empathy for you but not for others. Watch out – you’re next;
  • Indifference to the suffering of others;
  • Doesn’t seem to care how their words or actions affect you.

I will add some red flags to watch for of my own:

  • Has a vision of how you are or should be, and is more interested in trying to get you to fit that vision than understand how you actually are;
  • Offers you something and when you take them up on it, acts like they never offered it;
  • Expects you to move out of their way rather than expecting to work around you;
  • ‘Forgets’ saying or doing things that upset you when you call them on their behaviour, and tells you it didn’t happen;
  • Tells you that you’re over-reacting or being too sensitive when let them know you feel upset or hurt;

According to the article, you can tell if you are being manipulated by looking at your own feelings about the relationship: 

  • You often feel guilty; your mood depends on the state of the relationship; you feel inadequate;
  • you never feel sure where you stand; you carefully control your words, actions and emotions around this person;
  • you do things that go against your values or make you feel uncomfortable;
  • expressing negative thoughts and emotions seem forbidden so you hide them;
  • the relationship feels complex and you can’t quite put your finger on what the problem is;
  • you try to figure things out but can’t get anywhere;
  • you want to please this person but keep getting it wrong;
  • you end up in no win situations where you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t;
  • you feel afraid of losing the relationship;
  • you feel you are walking on eggshells.

I watch for the above in new people I spend time with, and if signs of manipulation or lack of empathy come up a few times, even in small ways, I choose not to continue the relationship. I am astonished to see that these traits can show up in the earliest encounters, often in seemingly positive ways. Some examples:

  • There was a guy who invited me on a date, telling me we’d go for a walk on the beach and that he had a puppy I was going to fall in love with. He did not ask to find out if I like walking on the beach, and he didn’t check whether I am into puppies. He assumed. Red flag: he has a vision of how I am supposed to be, not interested in finding out who I actually am.
  • I stayed with a woman who blindsided me with upsetting text messages during an important meeting. When I looked back I recalled a myriad of other small red flags. I decided to move out before things could escalate.
  • A friend showed me a series of videos on YouTube, and even after I had pointed out that I couldn’t understand them as they didn’t have subtitles, continued to insist that I would find them fantastic. She didn’t notice the bored expression on my face.

I’ve found I can tell a lot about a person by working with them in the kitchen. Say I’m washing the dishes, and the other person wants to wash their hands, what happens? Some people wait until a suitable moment for me, and then reach in quickly to wash. Others expect me to stand aside, or even stop washing the dishes altogether, because it is inconvenient for them that I am in the way. The former have empathy – they are thinking about my experience and taking care not to interrupt it. The latter are focused on their own experience and unconcerned with mine. I keep a very sharp eye on the people in the second group – usually there are other red flags which surface. By watching the small ways people interact with each other, I’ve found I can quickly pick up who has empathy and who lacks it.

Of course, some people are a mix – empathic in some ways and manipulative in others. I have noticed that if I call them on their manipulative behaviour or for crossing my boundaries, they will either respond with concern that they have upset me and a desire to understand better (and to change), or else respond defensively and maybe by pretending that the thing never happened. The people in the latter group get struck off my list. With the former, I watch carefully to see if their intention to change translates to actual change. Do they stop crossing my boundaries in the way I requested? Remember that behaviour speaks louder than words.

By pulling the brakes on these relationships before I become too invested, I have noticed a magnificent effect on my life: it is now filled with deeply empathic, caring people. I have never been so well loved as I am now.

When making new relationships, watch carefully for signs of whether the person has empathy or not, and whether they manipulate you or others. If you spot any red flags, watch carefully to see if this is a pattern of behaviour or just a one off. If it is a one-off, you could try calling the person (gently) on their behaviour and see how they respond. If their response is problematic or the pattern is strong, I encourage you to pull the brakes on the relationship if possible, and distance yourself. If that is impossible, take care to have very strong boundaries with this person and minimise day-to-day involvement.

If you recognise established relationships in your life that are clearly toxic, proceed carefully, as a person who lacks empathy or is manipulative may be quite mild while you are on their side, but become enraged and dangerous when they realise you are not. There are two key strategies to pull the breaks on toxic relationships – one is to establish boundaries and the other is to create distance. You could attempt to establish boundaries first, and go for distance if it fails. But maybe you know the person well enough to know that their behaviour is intrinsic and won’t change, in which case, distance is the only answer.

If it is a romantic relationship, imagine the worst case scenario and make preparations before you change the status quo. Hopefully it won’t come to that. But just in case, these are the kinds of ways you might prepare:

  • Ensure you have financial security, such as your own separate bank account with plenty of funds. If you share money with your partner, you could suggest a change of strategy such as having a joint account with enough money to live on monthly, and the remainder split into personal accounts belonging to each of you.
  • Place important documents such as house titles, bank statements, legal agreements etc in a folder in a safe place where they cannot suddenly ‘disappear’.
  • Talk to a friend or family member, preferably one who does not have a relationship with your partner, and make a plan to stay with them or call them if you need help.

Tried any of the ideas in this post? How did they go? Leave your comments below.

Journal Flip Through – Birds Eye

I have just about finished this journal. It’s really, really hard to let go of it, because it came with me to Norway, Denmark and France, and I’m not finished yet with all the inspiration I gathered on that trip, and all the happy memories that are held within its pages.

This flip through was filmed soon after I came home, so some of my pages are yet unfinished. But you can get an idea of how I prepare the pages ahead of time, before I write in them. Most of the collage I’ve added to these pages were papers I collected while I was overseas. The colour is from playing around with paint in France. As I work through the book, the subsequent pages get richer and richer as I dump stuff into them, and there’s less and less space for writing, photos etc, though often I just go right over the top of whatever is there.

Anyway, take a look through it if you’d like. And if you want to learn to make and use a journal like mine, check out my e-course, Make The Book Of Your Dreams. I’m off to have a look at it myself, now, to reference it to make my next journal.

Journal cascade

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I like to vary the page size in my journal because then larger pages layered behind smaller pages become a border or backdrop for the smaller pages. And sometimes there ends up a really interesting cascade of pages. Like this one here.

When I go to write on one of the smaller pages, I don’t have to do anything fancy to make it look good. In fact, it looks really cool and edgy if I just scrawl roughly. Because the book itself is so interesting, my daily journaling can be pretty simple and the end result is still a visual feast.

I teach an e-course in how to make and use a journal like mine, Make The Book Of Your Dreams. It would make a great gift for a creative person. You can download it online, or just between now and Christmas, if you want a DVD to give as a gift, private message me after you’ve bought the course, with your postal address, and I’ll send you the DVD for free.

I don’t ask the world to revolve around me

i-dont-ask-the-world-to-revolve-around-me

When I was growing up, I was often reminded that the world doesn’t revolve around me. Instead of walking into a conversation saying “What?! What are you talking about?” I should wait, listen, and then thoughtfully contribute.

I get the idea behind this, I really do. In fact, I’ve totally internalised it. The problem is, it doesn’t work for Deaf people. I can’t slip into a conversation being held by hearing people and make a contribution at an appropriate moment.

Stella Young, comedian, activist and feminist who died in 2014, taught me that actually, it is appropriate for me to ask for access. We all have the right to be included. I still find it hard to accept this, and believe it, but I’m trying.

Instead of making an excuse for why I can’t go to a party or social event, I’m trying to learn to explain that I don’t want to come because if there are no signing people there, I would be excluded. Instead of accepting that I can’t take this course or that course, I am learning to ask the teacher to make the effort to adjust the curriculum so I can access it.

It’s hard, it’s awkward, and whenever I do this, I have that inner voice piping up: ‘the world doesn’t revolve around you!’ But when I think of OTHER people, of, say, Stella, who couldn’t get up a flight of stairs no matter how hard she wished it, I think, ‘Of course she should have access. Let’s all make it happen.’

This painting is a reminder to all of us, to make the effort to provide access to everyone. It might be someone who can’t read a sign because their glasses are at home, it might be an elderly relative who can no longer hear at the dinner table, or it might be someone like me, or Stella, who have to ask over and over, for access.

If you are in a position to provide access, maybe you can do so without being asked. Simply offer. Arrange for an interpreter if you are inviting a Deaf person to a hearing-only event. Check out a venue for access and toilet accessibility when inviting a person who uses a wheelchair, and let them know that you did so. I’m learning to ask… but when I don’t have to, it means the world to me.

If you’d like to do your bit to raise awareness about deafness, feel free to share this post. Thanks!

How to nail the life you really want

Before I became very sick (but when I was on the way down and didn’t know why), I was working on lifestyle design – choosing carefully what I wanted to have in my day to day life, and eliminating the things that didn’t meet my goals or bring me pleasure. I tried experimenting with various ideas over most of a year, and found out some surprising things about the way I wanted to live. I thought I’d share with you some of my process, to inspire you in case you’d like to do similar work on your own life.Before I became very sick (but when I was on the way down and didn’t know why), I was working on lifestyle design – choosing carefully what I wanted to have in my day to day life, and eliminating the things that didn’t meet my goals or bring me pleasure. I tried experimenting with various ideas over most of a year, and found out some surprising things about the way I wanted to live. I thought I’d share with you some of my process, to inspire you in case you’d like to do similar work on your own life.

GATHERING INSPIRATION

I’ve read some fantastic books and websites that have given me great fodder for designing the best lifestyle for me. Here’s a run down of my favourites.

The Four-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

While I love being an artist, the thing I hate the most is the admin involved, which can take many, many hours per week. According to The Abundant Artist, if you want to sell your work, you need to spend 50% of your time making and 50% marketing. The latter half is not fun for me. Tim Ferriss showed me how to make the admin part of my life as efficient as possible. Key ideas he gave me include:

  • Do admin tasks in batches (eg, take photos of artworks, answer emails), and move the batches further and further apart.
  • Never start the day with emails or you’ll end up vague and unfocussed. Put a time limit on emails.
  • Do the most important thing first each day.
  • Every few months, do an 80%-20% analysis of your life. For example: Which 20% of things bring you 80% of stress? Eliminate! Which 20% of clients bring you 80% of your income? Focus on them.
  • Go on a data diet. For seven days, don’t read social media, newspapers, watch TV, listen to podcsts… By removing these items from your life, even temporarily, you can open up headspace and time for things that are more important to you.

After reading this book, I cut down my admin time to five hours per week, and hired an assistant to do some of the routine jobs I really didn’t like. The very process of handing over to an assistant was incredibly illluminating. I wrote out specific steps to follow when a certain kind of email arrives. Do you know what? If I had done this to hand over email-management to myself, I would have saved myself heaps of time, instead of re-inventing the wheel every day and writing the same stuff over and over.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Rubin spent a year reading research about what makes people happy, and trying out the ideas on herself. Some of the ideas, which she thought wouldn’t work or would be too hard, turned out to really improve the quality of her life. Other ideas she decided were not for her. One thing Rubin does is use charts to track her progress. Each month she followed a theme, such as working on her relationship, or improving her work life, and she would assign herself several relevant goals to try out for that month. Each day she’d tick if she achieved it.

One important criteria she discovered for her own happiness was to be herself. She noticed, for example, that she often engaged in activities she thought she should like rather than ones she actually likes. After reading her book, I set myself the goal to ‘Do what I want, not what I should,’ which often amounts to the same thing. I am actually surprised to see how often I don’t do the thing I really want to do because I’m aware of what people might think of me for that.

One month, Rubin read the book No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty who started NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month). It inspired her to write a novel for fun, without worrying about making it good. This idea resonated with me so intensely that I immediately bought the book and embarked on exactly the same project. And it’s brought me a great deal of joy. When I was a teenager I wrote unself-consciously and prolifically, but when I was 18, I set the bar so high for myself that it became impossible and I stopped. Being a professional writer now requires me to be careful and thoughtful, and that often makes writing hard. My aim for my novel was to throw that out the window and just write what I wanted. It’s been glorious!

In considering lifestyle design, Rubin’s book is great because it examines in detail numerous areas in which you might want to make changes, and helps you feel that if an idea doesn’t work out, that’s okay.

The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

I’ve blogged about my journey to declutter and reorganise my things according to the KonMarie method. It has indeed been life-changing. Interestingly, one of the first things that Rubin did when she started the Happiness Project is put her life in order, to reduce chaos. Just having my things uncluttered and organised, and all my outstanding tasks caught up, and memorabilia sorted, made my life vastly better, and made it much easier to find, use, and put away my things. But the true magic of the process is that by assessing with every single item that you own whether it brings you joy or not, and learning to discard it if it doesn’t, you train yourself to do that with every part of your life. This process was a key part of my own lifestyle design.

Minimalism

According to Anushka Rees, the idea of minimalism is that you remove things that don’t add value to your life to make room for the important things. Less: clutter, time commitments, negative thought patterns and toxic relationships. More: time, space and energy for the things that really matter to you. Rather than letting everything pile up so that we respond reactively, or allowing others to dictate how we spend our time, we make conscious choices and live with intention.’

Anushka’s blog has lists of questions you can ask yourself to help you decide how you want to live. A key idea is to define which 3-6 things are most important to you right now. Ensure that these become your day to day focus. Like Rubin and Kondo, she recommends decluttering and organising your belongings, and like Ferriss she suggests we cut down on unnecessary email and social media. There are also reminders in there for things I had let lapse, such as mindfulness, meditation, and not complaining.

The suggestion she makes that I found most helpful was to identify your stress triggers. While I tried to practise gratitude and focus on the positive and not complain, I realised that it meant I wasn’t paying much attention to the negative things in my life. Thanks to the previous steps, I’d gotten rid of a lot of things that stressed me and which I didn’t enjoy doing. What was left that made my life unpleasant was arguing regularly with certain people in my life. I decided for a while to write down the details of every single argument, asking myself what happened, why we fought, and whether I could have handled it differently. I was truly gobsmacked by how helpful this was. I noticed clear patterns and found I could break the cycle simply by changing my response to them. This transformed my day to day experience of stress at that time. I’m not saying it’s always that easy, but it’s a good example of how sometimes doing the thing that shouldn’t make you happy (dwelling on the negative) can actually bring about positive change. As I learnt with Rubin’s book, it’s important to try out ideas and find out what’s a good fit for you.

Bullet Journaling

I’ve noticed a new trend – bullet journaling. You can learn about that here if you are not familiar with the concept. Bullet journaling is a simple method for managing task lists, organising your inspiration, tracking progress with goals, and planning day to day activities. If, like me, you are obsessed with lists, bullet journaling might appeal.

I have actually developed my own systems for managing my to do lists and organising inspiration, and I don’t think bullet journaling as an entire package is quite right for me. But where I think it really comes into its own is with tracking progress with your goals.

Research shows (I’ve read this over and over) that if you want to make a change, tracking it is highly effective. Even if you don’t set specific goals, just monitoring your own progress can yield improvements. Want to change a habit? Track it. Want to eat better? Write down what you eat. Every time I’ve tried this, the results have been impressive.

Tracking stuff that isn’t specifically related to goals is helpful too. For instance, I tried for a while to divide my day into portions. I would study Norwegian flashcards, then journal, then write my novel, then do a painting.. And so on. By the end of the day I would have furthered every one of my goals. I set up a chart to track this. The experiment didn’t work at all. I simply cannot work in bite-sized chunks like that. I found I was far better to work for a whole day or two on my novel, then let it rest for a while. Dive into painting for a while and then do something different. This kind of flow suits me much better, but I’ve had trouble accepting that. When I do my 5th hour of Norwegian study in one day, there’s this nagging voice saying ‘Hey, you should be painting now!’. By tracking what I was working on I started to see a pattern. I’d spend 2-3 days on a goal then be ready for a break and shift to the next one. By simply trusting my intuition and letting the flow occur, I would work on all my goals, but over the course of a couple of weeks, rather than a couple of days. Without tracking, I didn’t know this about myself. Now I can plan accordingly, and I’m doing better at getting rid of the nagging voice that says I should be doing something different.

I’ve taken inspiration from several bullet journals I’ve seen on Pinterest, to create my own tracking system which helps me stay on track with living the life I want to live.

CREATING A MANIFESTO

After trying out lots of ideas, tracking my progress for a while, and tweaking endlessly, I eventually created a manifesto for how I wanted to live my life. I knew at the time it was just for then, that I would change it as my circumstances and needs changed. My life now is totally different, but I’ll share it with you because it shows the kind of thing you can do with a manifesto.

The reason I made a manifesto was to remind me of the things I wanted to include in my life. There were so many things I found helpful, but I noticed I quickly forgot about them. For instance, I read this amazing article in FLOW magazine about this woman whose life was transformed by giving something away each day. I could certainly become better at giving, I reckoned. While I wasn’t going to be super-strict and make sure I gave something every day, by having this as a part of my manifesto, I was reminded to give things to people regularly, in a more organic way. I was also reminded to meditate and do the Tibetan 5 Rites exercise programme, which is supposed to bring you more energy – both things I often forgot to do. It’s a kind of ten-commandments for life, only in my case there were more like 25.

Want to see my manifesto?

TASK MANAGEMENT

Do the most important task of my day first. Follow my inner flow and work on the project I want to work on (within reason!) Do what I feel like, not what I should (also within reason!) If a job takes one minute or less, do it now. Do domestic and admin tasks in batches. Tidy my desk every day.

DIGITAL LIFE

Don’t do email or Facebook before 11.30am, except for once per week. When I do email, deal with everything immediately, then close my email program. Aim for three times a week and keep it quick. Have only three Facebook sessions per week, and enjoy them! Clock off from admin at 7pm. When I write, enjoy it! (Don’t push on when exhausted.)

EXERCISE

Do Tibetan 5 rites. Walk 8000 steps or more. Do some other exercise as well, a few times a week, such as skipping, swimming, or playing ball.

HEALTH

Rest when I’m tired. Enjoy movies and TV guilt-free. Try knitting to see if it is restful and restorative. Work on my health – research what’s wrong and try out new ideas. Go sugar-free some days. Meditate. Get enough sleep.

PEOPLE

Have fun with and connect with the people in my family.Be a good friend to my special people. Give a gift. Be careful what social commitments I make.

FEELINGS

Journal about my feelings. Identify stressors. Write what I’m grateful for. Don’t complain.

The manifesto was the foundation for how I wanted to live. I couldn’t achieve it every day. Some days I complained. Many days I didn’t give anything to anyone and I forgot to meditate and couldn’t be bothered to exercise. Sometimes things came up that required me to break all my digital rules. That’s okay. This was just a guideline for me to come back to that reminds me what I felt was important.

You’ll notice that making art and creativity are not part of my manifesto. Thas because they were so deeply ingrained in my life and work that my creative activities formed the core of what I did. If you want to be more creative, then ideas to help you do that should be included in your manifesto.

SET GOALS

While the manifesto reflects how you will live your daily life, your goals reflect what you are actively working on. Ask yourself, what are the 3-6 most important things you want to do in your life right now? These should form the core of how you spend your days.

Here’s a sample list of my goals at that time:

  • Work on my novel, Future Girl.
  • Prepare for my upcoming exhibition.
  • Make lots of small artworks for Christmas markets
  • Study Norwegian.
  • Exercise more.
  • Rest a lot.

Once you’ve established your key goals, you might want to break them down into specific tasks you can add to your to do list. For instance, while ‘rest a lot’ might seem like a strange goal, something was wrong with my health and I had to spend a lot of time resting. Since I was not used to that, it was a challenge for me to find activities that were restful and which I enjoyed so I didn’t become bored. Thus ‘resting’ was an active project requiring experimentation and creative thinking. I could brainstorm ideas for how to rest, try them out, and record how restorative they are.

I had a tendancy to be very obsessive with my goals, to work extremely hard on them for fear that I might not achieve them if I didn’t. I set deadlines for myself and expect myself to meet them. I was trying to change this, to reduce stress. Rather than saying that I’ll finish the next draft of my novel by a specific date, I simply made it one of my focus projects, and made sure I worked on it several times a week.

PUTTING IT TOGETHER

As you can see, creating a life manifesto and setting goals for yourself can form an enormous platform for your life. To make it work, I suggest you don’t try to make too many changes all at once. My manifesto consisted of items I’d slowly added over time. In my experience, making three changes at once is doable. More than that can be overwhelming. Some people say it takes 30 days to change a habit. In my opinion, it’s more like three months. After three months of working dedicatedly on a new habit, it often settles in to become sufficiently routine that it doesn’t need my focus or attention any more. That said, if a new habit is going well, you could add in another one after thirty days.

That’s not to say you can’t revolutionalise your life more dramatically. In The Happiness Project, Rubin set herself 8 goals per month to work on. If you are going to do that, expect making the changes to become a major life focus, a goal in itself, rather than just a habit tweak. I also did this when I changed my admin life after reading The Four Hour Work Week. It took about three months of being my major focus and was a very intense experience.

To create your own manifesto, ask yourself questions about every aspect of your life. Consider whether what you are doing now is helpful, makes you feel good, and fits with your goals. Think about what stresses you and whether you can eliminate these items or change them in some way. What makes you happy? What small activities bring pleasure to your day?

Tracking how you spend your time, hour by hour, for a whole week, can be very illuminating. It can show you what you’re actually doing with your time so you can consider whether this reflects the things that are important to you.

Here are some web pages which can help you consider the big questions as you develop your manifesto:

  • Social media worksheet 
  • Goals
  • Happiness project
  • The 4-hour Work Week by Tim FerrissWhen you’ve got a list of ideas to try, think about how they might fit into your life. Select a few at a time to incorporate into every day, and as you do so, reflect on whether these changes make your life better or worse. Is it a good fit for you? If it’s not working, why not? Maybe you need to tweak it, or fit it into a different part of your day.

TRACKING YOUR PROGRESS

Let’s face it, I was not going to read my manifesto every day. In fact, I only got around to reading it very occasionally. Which meant it was easy to forget what was in there that I wanted to achieve. But there’s a simple way to stay on track, and that’s through tracking. For every single goal or change you make to your life, find a way to track it.

The items I tracked had three categories:

  • Some are satisfied with a simple tick or cross. For example, did I meditate today?
  • Some were answered with a word or number. For example, I took 7965 steps, or I’m           working on my novel.
  • Some needed a lengthier examination. For example, what stressed me today and how           did I  handle it? You can create a simple chart for the first two categories, making sure             to allow larger squares for the ones that need a word or number.

A simple chart:

By creating a chart you can quickly fill in each night, you set up the perfect system to remind yourself on a daily basis of what you want to achieve.

For the final category, I keep a list of prompts with my chart, and write the answers in my journal. I like this organic approach because I don’t need to answer all the prompts every day, and it allows for me to write as long (or as short) as I want on each topic.

Prompts:

• What are you working on?

• What stressed you today? How did you handle it and how could you have handled it differently?

• What are you grateful for?

WRAPPING UP

I hope you’ll find something in here that inspires you to make your own life more how you want it. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing. Just take the bits that appeal and give them a go. I’d love to hear your experiences with lifestyle design in the comments. What works for you? What doesn’t? What are you inspired to try?

Journal Flip Through – Receive

I thought you might like to see this flip-through of one of my old journals.

I was studying art pretty intensely while I was working with this journal.  My practise paintings all landed in here, and I still love flipping back through it and seeing my progression as I learned new techniques.

Later in the book, my family and I went on a road trip. The pages are full of junk that I collected, little drawings of things we saw and did, and they capture the small moments of the days in nature.  I love a good travel journal, and I think my books are just the right size – big enough for a page a day, but small enough to carry around with you.  I go back and live my trips over and over again with this visual record.

If you’d like to learn how to make and use a book like mine, check out my e-course, Make The Book Of Your Dreams.

Journal flip through – Journal No. 45

I thought you might be interested in this flip through of my journal when I’d only just started using it. You can see a handful of ‘finished’ pages at the beginning, and the rest of the book shows how it looks when I’ve ‘prepared’ it.

I make my journals myself, using office paper and upcycled materials. The hard-cover for this book came from a book of dolls a friend left by my front door as an anonymous gift. It took me a while to track down who had left me such a delightful offering, and I was so taken with it, I decided to use it as the basis for my next journal. I even cut out some of the dolls and stuck them inside the pages.

When I prepare my journal, I fill it with collage and interesting papers so that even if I am too tired to make a pretty page, I can simply scrawl roughly and the page still looks fantastic. Another advantage to this method is that it makes the book so appealing that I am drawn to it and feel a big pull to spend time within its pages.

If you want to learn to make and use a book like this, check out my e-course, Make The Book Of Your Dreams. I’ve also got a Facebook group for the course in which I post mini-tutorials to inspire students to make certain kinds of pages.

Journal Flip Through – Revolution

Video shows flip through of Asphyxia’s journal which is rich with collage, painted textures, text and photographs.

This is the second of my soft-spine art journals I made myself. It was a vast improvement on the first one, but I was still refining my technique. I put in far too many pages – the book practically exploded from the spine. Now I’ve figured out just the right number of pages per book, and how to tape up the spine so that even if the pages do get too fat, the spine will hold fast.

I still love this journal – I made it at a time I felt I needed a revolution in my life: a long list of problems that needed solving. Early in the journal is my problem chart, along with possible solutions. Throughout the book I kept going back and back to my problems, writing updates about the things I’d tried. And by the time I got to the end, every single problem was under control. I couldn’t have done that process without a journal to keep me on track.

I thought you might enjoy this video flip-through of its pages. If you’d like to learn to make one similar (with my far refined technique), check out my e-course, Make The Book Of Your Dreams.