Here is my newest installation of Refresh Daily Rewind, where we get back to the basics of activating our creative center. In this video, our topic turns to the Heart. From my sincerely refreshed heart to yours!
I love going for walks in my neighborhood. Although, right now, it is the middle of summer (in Texas), so I do try to get out earlier so I'm not dealing too much with the summer heat. BUT my walks are very important to me for several reasons. For one, it IS exercise! Yay! I enjoy being active, even if it's just a short time to get my legs moving. I also know it's important to get out into nature; it's a refreshment that I know I truly enjoy. But one of the most recent reasons I've wanted to go on my walk is to practice Staying Present.
When I first started walking in this neighborhood (which was just last year after a major move), I was so taken with the tree-lined streets, that I was fully absorbed whenever I would go out. And any nature-based action was just icing on the cake. Such as listening to and recording my local mocking birds with their delightful song, sometimes several of them going at the same time!
I would also be taken with the appearance of any mocking birds, whether directly on homes, on fences, on mailboxes or anywhere else they might be perched. Plus squirrels would often end up in the mix, especially when one would check me out and pose for pictures! Yes, all of these fun nature friends would keep me occupied while getting my footsteps in.
But in the past couple of weeks, I have noticed myself getting lost in thought, staying in my head, instead of being fully present with what was going on around me. So I decided to really pay attention to why I might be getting distracted from my surroundings. I suppose I could just be getting used to where I go, so I'm not paying as much attention.
I often find myself thinking too hard about whatever project I might be working on, or maybe a conversation I had with someone, or what my next blog post would be about! Ha! (In other words, I'm sometimes thinking about YOU, Dear Reader!)
What is one to do about Staying Present?
I'm making it a point to notice when I drift off into my head and Get back to center after I've clarified whatever point I was trying to make or problem I was trying to solve and move on to my surroundings once more.
I think it's all about awareness. Most of us don't even realize when we are lost in thought or when we're not really paying attention to what's going on around us. It's as if we're on auto-pilot. Not exactly fun and certainly not Present!
It also helps to Look Up...into the trees, listening for bird song and being very deliberate about where I put my attention. I also sometimes think about my feet and the process of walking itself (something else we usually do on auto-pilot).
Where we focus can make all the difference in helping us Stay Present.
Describe the last activity you did on auto-pilot. How did you feel about that task afterwards?
Now describe the last activity you did when you were fully present? What do you remember about what you did and how you felt as you engaged in this activity? Would you do it again? Did you find it more enjoyable than the task you did on auto-pilot? Why do you think you focused more on the latter activity as opposed to the first activity? How best do you Stay Present?
Art Journaling Prompt:
What color is helping you stay present right now? Use it in an art journal spread and listen to what that color says to you. What image is helping you stay present right now? Use that image as a focal point in this art journal spread and determine what that image is saying to you right now. Use that message and either cut out letters to spell it out or stamp with with alpha stamps. Or doodle it with markers and pens.
You can also use the words, Stay Present or Staying Present, and use that as your focal point.
Stay Focused and Pay Close Attention to what helps you Stay Present. And Honor it in your life in whatever way keeps you centered and aligned with Who You Are.
@Copyright 2015 By Dawn Herring
@Copyright 2015 Photo Images By Dawn Herring
@Copyright 2015 Doodle Header Image by Dawn Herring
I wanted to share a Fabulous Find of mine that I had been looking for in the last couple of years. Yes, it took that long, considering how picky I am about design, color/fabric and price. For the past few years, I used a tote I purchased at Walmart for $10. You can see it at the left. It has a couple of pockets and a zippered section and the rest is all open. It worked well for me until I added a journal to the mix. Then it felt like chaos reigned in my purse! I seriously needed some organization.
So I was on the lookout for a new handbag that would help me get organized--you know, a place for everything. I would notice handbags that stood out to me which pretty fabrics and larger sizes when out and about. I noticed the ones I liked the most were Vera Bradley bags. Then a friend recommended I sign up for Zulilly which hosts fabulous finds for great prices. So I signed up and waited patiently for Vera Bradely to be featured.
Well, I FINALLY found what I was looking for! Yay!
Again, I was picky about design, structure and price. I got this bargain for $30; it has sections to keep everything organized with zippered and pocket areas. It's absolutely perfect.
I wanted to emphasize to you the importance of honoring your preferences (based on whatever budget you follow, of course). I saw many bags with colors and patterns that didn't suit me.
Here's a list of what I didn't want:
No organizing sections
Too small or too large
Here's a list of what I DID want:
Vibrant colors like turquoise, gold, orange, and reds
Organizing sections with pockets
It does take patience to find what you want when you're picky like me, but I still found it and now that I have it, it was worth the wait. Honoring your preferences is a way of appreciating yourself for Who You Are and What You Love. And not thinking you should like what everyone else is buying. Sometimes what you love may be hard to find. Keep looking until you hit the jackpot! Then Celebrate!
List the qualities of something you really like that you've been looking for. Get as detailed as possible and express why these qualities are important to you. No detail is too silly or minor or dismissed. The more, the better! This is a way to see deeper into who you are and why you like what you like.
Art Journal Prompt:
Get an image or draw an image of what you are looking for right now and use it as a focal point in a journal spread. Cut out words or doodle the qualities you love about what you want. And when you get it, celebrate with another spread focusing on your happiness and how you feel now that your desire has been met.
Copyright 2015 Dawn Herring
Copyright 2015 Images by Dawn Herring
My Sketchbook. I've been using these types of sketchbooks for my personal journaling after many years of writing in smaller lined journals with ribbons for book marks. But a couple of years ago, they were starting to feel too small.
So I decided to start writing in an unlined sketchbook which gives me a way to doodle, draw mind maps, write lists and all sorts of fun stuff like that, where lines would be prohibitive or hindering.
But recently, I decided I needed to use a sketchbook for just my ART. This one you see on the left is for just that purpose.
Sketching, which is basically rough drawing, has never been my forte; I love to draw fully detailed, no rough. Rough sketches don't feel natural to me.
So I was reluctant to start a sketchbook for my art.
BUT I had an epiphany of sorts, after reading and watching other artists with their sketchbooks. I realized I don't have to necessarily Sketch in my Sketchbook if I don't want to. I can draw whatever I want. I can do more doodles in addition to my daily doodle that I do in my evening entry in my personal journal. I can practice my lettering skills to create more graphic headers for my blog posts, which I have SO MUCH FUN with! (The above graphic header was originally created in my new sketchbook. :) )
I also use this sketchbook to take notes on what I'm up to with my current watercolor-in-progress, with any plans for other projects, my artistic goals, dreams and lists. So, yes, I journal in my artist sketchbook!
One of the issues I've come across since I started it is whether I should be separating my art from other life issues when in my art-focused sketchbook...since I'm already journaling otherwise. But it's really hard to keep it separate, because, in reality, my art influences and affects all other areas of my life. But HOW MUCH to include is the challenge.
I suppose if I just determine that Anything Goes with it, I can just relax and not concern myself about doing it Wrong or wondering if having an art sketchbook is worth the bother. I do have many journals that I keep, but I have looked forward to writing and experimenting with this one.
I will admit to repeating myself a lot between my art and my personal sketchbooks, But my art bears repeating! That's how important it is to me. And No one else is reading it so I don't have to concern myself about boring anyone or having someone say, you already wrote about this. I can repeat myself as many times as I'd like with no harm done.
I think the fact that I HAVE an artist's sketch book to play in is a great cathartic catalyst for ideas, for messing around, for playing with my Winsor Newton Watercolor markers, and just having FUN. Who knows what may result from what comes up in my creativity and in my thoughts and intuition s a result of giving myself more artistic space?
Is there something that you have given to yourself recently that you may feel is a bit over the top or unnecessary but you really want to try this new thing and see what comes of it? Detail this in your journal and express how you feel about this new thing and if you feel indulgent and why. Give yourself space to validate your emotion and feelings about this new thing and be your own cheerleader!
Art Journal prompt:
Make a page or spread in your art journal to express how you feel about doing something for yourself that you may feel like you need permission to do. Use text, color and stamping/stenciling to create layers of meaning for that permission granted!
Copyright 2015 by Dawn Herring
Copyright 2015 Graphic Header by Dawn Herring Collection
Welcome back to my art journal pages! This particular spread, Forge Ahead, is unique for several reasons.
First of all, it took a total of six weeks to complete due to delays, blocks and lack of energy/inspiration. With the recent changes I made to my studio (which I detail here in A Creative Experiment), the energy wasn't flowing quite as well as usual. And I'm still working out the logistics of where everything should go as far as my three work spaces, but at least I made progress! I had no idea that this spread was open on my desk for so long. I looked at the date of my previous spread and was very surprised at this discovery. I thought it was at most, three weeks.
Another way this spread, Forge Ahead, is unique is the way I started it. Usually I put down color first, but this time, I started with the words, Forge Ahead, stamping out the letters with a new ink pad I recently purchased, another new approach. I usually stamp with watercolor. So with two new approaches to this spread, the words and falling letters stayed that way for a while. I had to think out what would come next.
Collage is always a welcome addition to my journal spreads, but the first time I thought about it, I wasn't sure what colors I wanted to use so I put it off for a bit. Eventually I did come back to it and chose earthy tones from my magazine stash. I started with the darkest hue, then on to orange and then the skin tones. I liked the way the color scheme came together. (I also had a later thought when this spread was complete that the lightest colored collage pieces reminded me of sustaining bread when you're in need of nourishment during hard times.)
The other way this Forge Ahead spread is unique is it includes my first attempt at working with a homemade modeling paste using gesso and...baby powder? ;) It did do the job as you can see below with the close up of using a stencil in between the letters, but I must say that I won't plan to use baby powder for this job again. The smell from the talc was too overpowering to make it workable. (I did look up other possibilities and plan to try baking soda next time.) Once I had the modeling paste installed, it was time to decorate with color. The thought that came to mind was Forge being a source of Fire, so the color scheme between the letters and around the collage pieces is associated with fire. Once I added watercolor as fire based hues, I also added a bit of oil pastel to give it a bit more texture.
Once I had this done, I really took a good look at the texture from the modeling paste and the long thin shape of the stencil, and realized it reminded me of bones. When that came to mind, I was like, Yikes! Bones? Yes, bones. And with the color scheme of fire, it could appear to be like a war zone. I found this to be somewhat disturbing. (This is what I often refer to as the subconscious coming to the fore!) So I began to think about Forging Ahead and what that can sometimes look like. Life is not all sweetness and roses. As a matter of fact, it can sometimes be downright difficult! Like you're in a war zone.
We don't often like to think about the challenges and difficulties of life but sometimes there's a time and a place for it; and for me, with this spread, it was a time and place. When I forge ahead, do I sometimes feel like I'm wounded from various life experiences? If so, what kind? That really got me to thinking and journaling too!
When have you recently found yourself feeling "bloody" or wounded by a life experience? Has this situation happened before, just in a different context? Honor that experience by validating whatever you have felt and may still be feeling from this. You may want to use a fire colored pen or marker or crayon (red, orange, yellow) to express your deepest feelings.
Art Journal Prompt**:
Using the colors of fire, Red, orange and yellow, using wet media, oil pastel, or using collage materials, create an art journal spread to express any woundings you have experienced, whether recently or from a memory that comes to the fore.
Using the word Forge, do a mind map, writing down any associative words or phrases that come to mind. See if any repeating words/phrases show up and use them in an art journal spread.
When we honor our life experiences by either writing about them or create visuals to commemorate them, we give space to validate how we feel and how we would like these wounding experiences to be resolved.
By the way, as an end note on this Forge Ahead Spread, I wanted to share that I did not find this particular spread to be visually attractive. I wasn't even sure if I would share it publicly, but I decided to share this experience with you all so we can see the benefits of working in our art journal and listening to our hearts. <3
Copyright 2015 by Dawn Herring
Copyright 2015 Art Images by Dawn Herring
**This prompt is not meant to be a substitute for counseling.
I am an avid journal keeper. I also host #JournalChat Live on Social Media. I love sharing all the benefits journal writing has to offer. I am refreshed when what someone else has shared has resonated with me and then I get to share it with our #JournalChat Live Community.
One of the Greatest Benefits I have ever experienced with keeping a journal has been to recognize truth versus illusion. What do I mean by that? I'll explain.
On any given day I may experience a frustration, a challenge, a resistance, a conflict. And I want to know why I responded the way I did. It takes a bit of digging to get to the answer, but it's always worth the time invested since it helps me create positive change that is very action oriented.
One of the biggest discoveries I've made through my journal entries is recognizing when I've been thrown off my center, have lost my personal power and feel disoriented, angry or resentful. I get right down to the nitty-gritty in my journal and describe in detail what's going on.
I ask a lot of questions. I sometimes do mind maps on words that come up repeatedly. Sometimes I dialogue and use alternating hands to get answers. And most of the time, I'm surprised by what comes out.
But I always end up in a place of understanding concerning any illusions I might be dealing with whether it's based in fear of the unknown, being uncertain or unsure, or recognizing when I need to shrink something down to size that feels really big and intimidating.
Journaling, with all of its approaches, techniques and tools, really helps me unpeel all those layers to get down to the root of the problem. Once I know what that is, I can determine what decisive action is necessary to stop the pattern of the illusion before it even starts!
You see, when I recognize the illusion for what it is, I can then recognize the TRUTH of the matter and begin living by that truth as much as possible. Journaling truly helps me SEE differently, giving me a fresh perspective!
And when I combine my journaling with other nurturing activity such as prayer/meditation/study/painting, it becomes a power house of energy that gets me going in the right direction.
When you live by the truth that you discover in your journal, you can create positive change in your life that truly aligns you with Who You Are.
Then you'll begin to notice that discovering Who You Are becomes a more natural process, demystifying the answer to that all encompassing question: What Am I Here For?
Yes, with a consistent journal writing practice, you can experience Truth in a nutshell when you take the time to dissect, discern and disable illusion in order to initiate personal empowerment, which enables you to leave your meaningful mark in the world.
Journal Prompt: Note a recent conflict or challenge you have faced and detail it in your journal, including who, what, when, where and why. Be sure to include any emotions or feeling that rose up in that conflict. Then use your favorite journaling technique, such as dialogue or a mind map, and do some dissecting to reveal any illusions you may be reckoning with. Then take the new understanding, which is YOUR TRUTH, and determine what action you can take to live in that truth as much as possible. And always be GENTLE with yourself in this process.
Art Journal Prompt: Create a visual, whether text or image based, choosing colors that resonate and honor how you are feeling about the conflict you detailed. Use this art journal spread as an affirmation of your TRUTH that you have discovered and celebrate this positive change in your life!
Copyright 2015 by Dawn Herring
Image Copyright 2015 by Dawn Herring Collection
This post, Finding My Truth, is my contribution to our 5 Year Anniversary Celebration of #JournalChat Live for all thing Journaling! You can also contribute with details here and join our #JournalChat Live Facebook Group for journaling camradarie and insight with blog posts, articles and prompts for your journal writing practice. You can also sign up for Refresh Journal which includes the best of what I find and share online in our #JournalChat Live Community.
Have I told you how much Fun art journaling is? But it's not just fun. It's insightful. It's a place to give full expression to your heart, your emotions and your thoughts about life. And you can get a specific and as general as you wish.
I find art journaling to be a powerful subconscious tool since it can combine many elements together, such a color, texture, image, words, and layering of things that can be meaningful in ways that go deeper. I like it when I go deep. Although it can be a challenge to assimilate what I learn since the deeper you go, the more insightful it gets. When you receive insight about yourself, you may recognize areas you need to change, And we all know that change isn't easy. But it's necessary if we are to grow into Who We Are every day, right?
So, art journaling is, for me, a great way to understand and know myself in such a way as to create authentic positive change.
For this spread, I started with a stencil. I recently purchased alpha and numeric stencils to use in my art journaling, and lately I've been experimenting (love to experiment!) with sprays. I've been putting pigment in water in a little spray bottle to see how well it works and how dark a color I can get with it. That's still a work in progress.
This time I used liquid ink in an red/orange color with water and sprayed it twice (drying in between) over a numeric stencil. It didn't come out as dark as I would have liked but it was visible even though washy. This was also a spread I made stencils for. (Making stencils was one of my goals this year as an art journal keeper and artist in general.) I made a leaf stencil and one with squares, both of which I used in this spread as you can see even more clearly in the images below. (I also added a yellow watercolor.)
I like the way the leaf stencil came out. I used a cosmetic sponge to apply the watercolor paint. I just have to watch I don't use too much water otherwise it gets under the stencil. It really is all in the experimenting! I learn as a go, and I have fun at the same time. (That's my mantra in art journaling, isn't it? ;)) Once I had my stencils work in place, I noted that the squares reminded me of building blocks. So I decided to add the words, Building Blocks, using colored construction paper as background and I would stamp each one with a letter. I had to determine where the blocks would go. There are so many variables based on what's on the page already as well as what looks right. Once I settled on the 'where' of it, I adhered them with matte medium, and then stamped the letters.
Once I had that completed, I felt like the yellow was a bit "loud," so I decided to tone it down a bit with red watercolor paint applied with a sponge and then later, outlined with a paintbrush. I also decided to add more building blocks to the page by cutting out squares of paper, laying them out in such a manner as to resemble bricks, which I later outlined in white and red on yellow.
Once I had that completed, I begin to think more deeply about the Building Blocks of life. Not only do our homes get built with a strong foundation, but our inner lives have one as well. But what are those building blocks made of?
Joy and Happiness are wonderful building blocks created from lovely life experiences we have. But what about those life challenges that throw us off our center or make us look more carefully at our choices?
Ah yes, those! They have so much to teach us, don't they? What triggered that initial reaction or action on our parts? What can that tell us about ourselves?
I'm always one to dig deeper in my journal when I ask myself such questions so I can learn what I can to make that all-essential positive change. Know what NOT to do next time and what TO DO for my health and well being.
So as I asked this question, I decided to add 'Life Challenges" to my spread, using a stencil for the lettering, which I applied with watercolor and outlined with white gel pen.
As I thought more deeply, I realized that Life Challenges are Building Blocks to....Alignment! (Which I added also with stencil.) Yes. When we recognize the positive change needed and take action to do what is necessary to implement that positive change, we get REALIGNED with Who We Are. (I was actually excited to share that with you since I know how powerful it was for me.)
I am all for realigning with Who I Am, since I know when I am thrown out of alignment from life challenges, it doesn't feel very good. No. And who wants to stay there anyway? Not a very healthy place to be.
My journal and art journal are both places that help me stay aligned and help me re-align when needed.
Art Journal/Journal Prompt:
Are you facing a life challenge that has thrown you off your center? Have you been blindsided by something unexpected and are smarting because of it? Explain in detail this challenge in your written journal, including what triggered the challenge, how you reacted to the challenge, and what made you realize it threw you off your center. What did you do or still need to do to get realigned? What positive change do you need to make as a result of this life challenge?
In your art journal, use the color that most represents this challenge for you and apply in a way that Honors your emotion and your feelings right where you are. Pull text from magazines or simply write words that express those feelings best visually. You can also use an image that best represents what this challenge is telling you about yourself. You can also write a poem that Honors the Positive Change you are implementing as a result of this life challenge you have experienced.
Validating and Honoring your emotions and Who You Are in a Life Challenge is essential to help you go deeper in understanding how your life works for you and what you can do to make it the best quality of life you can.
Remember that those Life challenges can be the Building Blocks to the Life You really want. Don't be afraid to go for what Aligns you with Who You Are from the inside out.
Copyright 2015 Dawn Herring
Copyright 2015 Images by Dawn Herring Collection
Have I ever told you how much I love Art Journaling? I'm always singing its praises since I know how rewarding the process can be. And this 2 page spread that you see in the first image is no different.
I did want to express the importance of having a good stash of art journal fodder on hand if you like the collage element of creation like I do. I recommend saving magazines, circulars, junk mail and anything that has images, text or designs that you like and pull what you're drawn to. I love doing this; sometimes when I don't want to paint but I do want to get into a creative mindset, I'll go through a magazine or two and pull what I like and stash it in my drawers for future reference.
For this particular spread, I used several things from my stash, with my current favorite color (or at least one of them!) turquoise. I decided I also wanted to lay down some newspaper and tissue paper along with the magazine fodder to create a more layered look. And I achieved just that. :)
I used gesso to prime the pages initially. Then I started to tear the newspaper in strips and adhered them with matte medium. Once I had that down, I tore bits and strips of the turquoise fodder, first one with a lighter color turquoise, then later I added the darker hues that included black from another image altogether. I added more gesso between these applications to tone down the color but to also add texture and visual interest. Gesso is great for that. I usually apply the gesso with a wide plastic palette knife initially then I switch to a more narrow palette knife when using it over layers. The second image is an up close of the left page.
Once I had all the layers and gesso down, I also added some turquoise watercolor paint from Prang and added stippling in various areas for more design and for visual interest. I also added some black in various spots to highlight some of the black on parts of collage I used. Once I had all of this complete, I began to look carefully at the composition I created and realized it reminded me of being under water with the color turquoise. Deep under water. Water can also been symbolic of emotion. And emotions are in the soul. Thus the title, Soul Deep. So I stamped the words SOUL DEEP with upper case alpha stamps and again in smaller letters. I accented the letters with black, turquoise and white to define them. The third image is an up close of the right page.
One of the things I wanted to point out with this Soul Deep spread; when we want to go deeper in learning more about ourselves, deep where those core emotions lie, it can feel a bit overwhelming, especially when we reckon with unexpected emotions of the soul. This is where we have to be nurturing with ourselves, so we don't end up feeling like we desperately need to come up for air. You know how when you go swimming and dive deep, the first thing you want to do, out of necessity, is come up for air. The same goes for emotional swimming. There's a place for seeking and splashing and discovering. But when it's time for air, we need to be flexible with ourselves, rather than exacting. Especially when we've made mistakes.
Be willing to go deep--even soul deep. But Be Gentle with what you discover. But be ready to see what needs to change too, because that will come. But you'll be ready for it.
And when you do come up for air, the air will be sweet and invigorating; and you will be changed--for the better.
Enjoy your swim!
Copyright 2015 by Dawn Herring
Copyright 2015 Images by Dawn Herring Collection
Dawn engages in many roles: As Writer/Blogger and Artist/Creative and Founder of Refresh with Dawn Herring: Where Art and JOY Align, She enjoys sharing from her vast experience as award-winning, life-long artist and leader in the field of written journaling, offering encouragement and proven tips to other journal keepers. Dawn's focus is on written journal keeping, artistic expression and finding your Creative Voice, and positive change that leads personal empowerment, encouraging you to leave your authentic and positive mark in the world. Dawn is a Commercial artist, hand letterer/illustrator and writer/blogger and enjoys sharing insights, humor, and encouragement as she shares from her life experiences as a woman, wife, mother of two grown daughters and as a Grandparent to a special needs grandson. She enjoys keeping a journal and reading spiritual texts to help keep the light on. May JOY Align with Your Creative Heart.