Setting Intentions

December 8, 2014 in creative tools, dreams, inner wisdom, inspiration


world is a canvas


I have never been the best planner. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants for the most part. Getting ideas and acting on them shortly after. But in the last few years, at about this time of year I find that I am drawn to doing a little more planning ahead than usual, and do you know what I have noticed? The things that I am dreaming to do and wanting to make happen are coming together much smoother as a result. I know, I know, hard to believe right?


But seriously there are a few rituals that I do this time of year as the seasons are changing.  Where I live things are getting colder and I tend to go into my shell a little more – in a good reflective way that is.


One of the things that I always do this time of year is clear out old junk, literally and metaphorically speaking. The last few weeks I have been tidying around the house and in my home studio space (there are pockets of creative space throughout my house) getting rid of stuff that I don’t use. I have been clearing out the old to make room for the new. Not necessarily new stuff, but new ideas, dreams, hopes, aspirations, the kind of stuff that takes up a lot of mental and emotional space and needs a tidy organized environment to thrive. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not a neat freak, and I’m all for a bit of creative chaos, just as long as it doesn’t become so distracting that it gets in the way of my new ideas and creativity growing.


Another thing I like to do this time of year is a vision board, otherwise known as a dream board. I find that as a visual person, visioning my year ahead in this way helps me tap into those unconscious dreams and aspirations in ways that just writing lists cannot. And it is a tool that I can use throughout the year to help keep me focused on my vision and my intentions for the year.


The next thing that I like to do is review my Life & Biz planner from the year (I use Leonie Dawson’s Shining Year in Life and Business). It is amazing to see what I have dreamt up and what I have accomplished. I review throughout the year of course.


I then set out to fill in my new planner for the upcoming year. This is by no means a rushed process. I like to begin to fill it out in early December and work on it as much as I can each week so that I am ready for the new year. I don’t always fill out every part, and sometimes come back to fill out parts when it makes sense for me to.

What I know is that this process of doing opening to vision and  filling in the 2015 workbook help bring more clarity into my life. These simple but powerful rituals really help me focus on my intention to bring more of what I want into my life, namely a joy filled year.

What do you do to help bring life into your intentions?


Need some support getting started?  In person or online vision board workshops are available.  Creative visioning online workshops available, online art journaling and  Toronto vision board workshop.

 Opening To VisionLRGLeonie 2015 200x200Visioning Your Year Ahead blank date



Creative Flow

December 1, 2014 in art therapy, creative tools, creativity, inner muse, inner wisdom, inspiration, mindfulness


take the space


Going with the flow is something that is thrown around a lot as the way to “be”. While I’m not against this notion, I do think we need to first define what exactly this “going with the flow” means or looks like. One might conjure up an image of a free-flowing, stress-free, worry-free life, doing things as they come or feel right to do. But does life really play out that smoothly?


Going with the flow can be difficult. Our tendency is to fight the current. Pun intended. It’s hard to stay in the present. We resist allowing ourselves to just go where we might because we fear losing control. Going with “the flow” is not about loosing our identity, it’s about accepting it.


There have been many times that I thought I was going with the flow only to find out that I was paddling against it.  Trying to prove something to myself or to others.  Going with the flow to me is about being present, noticing what is before you and trying not to get pulled into the past or the future worries.  When we give too much importance to criticism our focus becomes worry oriented and our fears (such as fear of failing), can keep us disconnected from our creative selves.


So how does one go with the flow more readily? That is a very good question. Just as we all have our own unique creative expression, and need to go at our own pace, it is also important to recognize that going with the flow is a very individual process which we each need to figure out.  Some of us may be fast paced, full of energy and take a “go-go-go” stance. That may just feel right for some but for others the pace may be more turtle like, slow and steady.   So the real question is what are some ways that personal flow can be honoured.


Flow happens when we find our own voice. Flow happens when we recognize what blocks us or makes us stumble so that we can be prepared for any falls, and accepting of them as part of our path.  Tapping into our flow is a practice. Something that once you have given yourself the space and permission to explore will come as your awareness of self deepens.


Flow happens with creative practice.  We need to take the space for our creativity because it is ours to take, and won’t be given to us.  Excuses will only serve to slow the flow, and keep us disconnected from our creative wisdom.  But we need to make that move, whatever it is to get the flow started.  Movement inspires movement and prevents stagnation.


At first it may feel awkward, particularly if you have been out of your creative flow.  But as you keep going back to your creative practice you will begin feel, intuit what feels right for you. It won’t feel forced, but rather will naturally flow.  There will be bumps along the way, you may fall, but if you allow yourself to roll with the falls then you are still in the creative flow.


Need some help developing or maintaining a creative practice? Why not create in community? Art journaling or creative visioning available online and in Toronto.

21secrets_Fall Opening To VisionLRGVJJ2014Collage

Creating in Community

November 24, 2014 in art therapy, creativity, inner critic, inner muse


I have a confession, I have reached a point where I have run out of words. I know it won’t last but it is uncomfortable just the same. Here I am supposed to be writing something inspiring to you the reader- even that sounds drab and unexciting. But I could not think of what to write, that is until I began to write.

The act of writing in and of itself began to inspire me and the words that had not come to me before this moment began to flow. It doesn’t always happen this way. In fact, most times I just keep putting it off, stuck in my thoughts of “I have nothing important to say”. Does this sound familiar? Or perhaps your inner voice sounds something like “I have nothing important to create/paint/draw/sculpt/art journal (fill in the blank) about.”

When I was doodling daily it felt good; the inspiration came to me through the doing not the talking, and I was reminded why I chose the profession of art therapist rather than just therapist: it is the doing that shakes things up and gets creative juices flowing, not the other way around. You can’t actually think things into being until you actually act on those thoughts. And sometimes if we can just skip the (conscious) thinking all together we’ll surprise ourselves with what appears before us when we just begin to create.

A story that is not recorded either through written word, spoken word or depicted visually are just trapped thoughts until they are released.

Reading posts on creativity or viewing videos on connecting with your creativity may spark that inner creative fire, but it won’t sustain it. What sustains our creativity is creating- nothing else. It is the act of creating that gives us the drive and the hunger for more creating. It is not the thinking about it that keeps that creative spark lit.

This is where most people get stuck. The starting of the “doing”; the act of creating rather than waiting for that perfect time when nothing else is in the way. Too much planning and expectation can be the death of a creative spark. Over-thinking can betray our creativity.

Do you remember when you were a child how great it felt to share what you did? “Look at me” was your mantra. Family, teachers, and friends would gather round and give you your 2 minutes of fame, genuinely interested in what you had created. When we create in community, with others as our witness it can be reaffirming of who we are. Community is important, it is a part of what makes us human.

I know for me having accountability to other than myself can be motivating, for example saying I’m going to create daily doodles and then sharing them. Creating in community or with a witness can be a powerful process. Creating in this context is a sustainable practice.

It doesn’t have to be big or even daily, though a daily practice can certainly help. The important thing is that you create following your rhythm and flow. I’m not saying it is easy. But when you set the inner critics and busy mind aside, it is possible to reconnect with your creativity, sustaining it one brush stroke at a time.


21secrets_Fall   Opening To VisionLRGVJJ2014Collage

The Messy Stuff of Creativity

November 11, 2014 in art therapy, creativity, inner wisdom, mindfulness

invert people


I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out what to write my next blog post about and have been stuck.  After writing a little something daily and posting doodles for the past month of October my mind has come up blank.  I have my moments when I seem to have a lot to say and am on a role.  The same happens in my art making, I go through stages when I am making art all the time and then it just stops.  I use to panick  and worry that I was not creative enough to sustain my art making.  Now I try to just roll with it.  There is a natural ebb and flow that happens with creativity which often is forgotten.

When we are driven by product its easy to forget the importance of honoring the process.  This includes embracing the unknown aspects of our creative process, that which has not yet unfolded and which still needs time to grow.

Creativity is made up of many parts, which often occur under the radar of most people’s awareness.  We take things in from our environment and our experience of them can ignite a creative spark. The ideas  (for lack of a better word) may sit there, meditating in a sense until they are ready to come forward. Thus the seed is planted, nurtured, then germinates,  sprouts, and the seed grows becoming more than the original seed, now a living entity.

This is the messy stuff of creativity, it’s unpredictability. It pushes us to let go of our need for  control, our need to know.

The right environment has to exist for sure, one of acceptance and willingness to venture into the unknown, but also an environment which has just the right emotional temperature, and timing.  Timing can not be bartered with, the seed of the creative idea knows just when it is ready to sprout, and no two are alike.  This is the messy stuff of creativity, it’s unpredictability. It pushes us to let go of our need for  control, our need to know.

Creativity is of course more than a sum of its parts. It is a beautiful dance which occurs between the art maker and their creative fire. A letting go of expectations so that the dance can be danced without inhibition and with the utmost of expression.

When I am  comfortable with my unique creative pace  I am more prepared to  be patient with the unfolding and witnessing of creative ebb and flow in others.

Continuing Creative Practice

October 31, 2014 in art journaling, creativity, Doodleaday Challenge

#DoodleADay Challenge Day 31


Today the challenge ends but the practice continues.  I have been having a great time doodling daily and intend to keep it up. I feel like this daily practice has been a nice boost to my creative connection with self and my imagination.


#DoodleADay Challenge ends but doodling practice continues


If you are in need of some motivation to get started on your own daily doodling practice then I encourage you to read my posts 10 reasons to doodle , or the Doodle a Day Challenge here

Daily Doodle

October 30, 2014 in art journaling, creative tools, creativity, Doodleaday Challenge

#DoodleADay Challenge Day 30!

Thirty days of doodling daily has been fun- but there is at least one more day. At least because this is something I plan on doing more regularly rather than just at meetings or conferences.
#DoodlesADay Challenge at Day 30
If you are in need of some motivation to get started on the #DoodleADay challenge then you may want to read  my post 10 reasons to doodle , or the Doodle a Day Challenge here


Morning Discovery

October 29, 2014 in art journaling, creative tools, Doodleaday Challenge, inner muse, poetry

#DoodleADay challenge Day 29

#DoodleADay challenge at day 29


A few words about this morning’s doodle:

Rock froms mountain, and there she appears

resting quietly, gently reminding me of her presence

She was not expected

always welcome



If you are in need of some motivation to get started on the #DoodleADay challenge then you may want to read  my post 10 reasons to doodle , or the Doodle a Day Challenge here


Creative Ideas

October 28, 2014 in art journaling, Doodleaday Challenge


#DoodleADay Challenge Day 28

#DoodleADay Challenge day 28

I never know what I am going to see appear before me on the blank page when I begin.  Though I generally work this way when I do my painting, doodles seem to free me up even more to express myself.  Surprisingly (or not depending on how you look at it) a good number of my doodles have turned out to be interesting enough subjects that I can see myself making them into bigger paintings.  So the doodle becomes the source of fresh ideas and new beginnings.  By taking the doodle further this way, I can explore its’ depth, symbolism and meaning in greater detail visually.


If you are in need of some motivation to get started on the #DoodleADay challenge then you may want to read  my post 10 reasons to doodle , or the Doodle a Day Challenge here


Breaking Out of Old Patterns

October 27, 2014 in art journaling, creativity, Doodleaday Challenge

 #DoodleADay Challenge Day 27


#DoodleADay Challenge day 27


After doodling for 27 days repeated patterns emerge in many of my doodles. Each time I doodle I have opportunity to observe them. Not just in my symbology of images, shapes and visual metaphors used, but also in the way that I approach the doodle.    I notice where I lean toward a certain style and my comfort level and have opportunity to shift this by trying new things.
Even when judgement mind steps in, the swiftness of the doodle allows me to bypass any blocks that might otherwise slows down and take me in a different direction.
If you are in need of some motivation to get started on the #DoodleADay challenge then you may want to read  my post 10 reasons to doodle , or the Doodle a Day Challenge here

Leaving Judgement Behind

October 26, 2014 in art journaling, creative tools, Doodleaday Challenge, inner wisdom, mindfulness, Self-Love



#DoodleADay challenge at day 26 Leaving Judegment Behind

#DoodleADay Challenge Day 26


I have to admit that not judging my own art work is a work in progress.  Today’s doodle (and here comes the judgment) I’m not particularly fond of.  I thought I would try something that someone in the Facebook Virtual Art Circle group did: doodling with one continuous line.  She was right it was hard not to pick up my pen from the paper, but even more it was difficult for me not to judge the finished product as I had seen her example and in my mind was comparing the overall lack of (judgement) coherence.  It’s just a doodle right?

If we look at the process of making a doodle (for 25 days straight now) it’s clear to me that doodles can be many things: they can be:

  • Stress relieving,
  • Calming,
  • A release of tension,
  • Connection to self,
  • Connection one’s imagination,
  • Connection to one’s unconscious,
  • Connection to one’s playful side,
  • A way to focus
  • A way to gage one’s present state of emotions and
  • A way to practice acceptance of what is.

Today’s lesson for me was just that, an opportunity to practice acceptance of what is, leave judgment behind and trust the process.

If you are in need of some motivation to get started on the #DoodleADay challenge then you may want to read  my post 10 reasons to doodle , or the Doodle a Day Challenge here