Can we look at sad rants in our journals in a new way?

No doubt my collection of 300 + journals, sketchbooks and image-idea files are filled with more sad rants than with positive day-to-day activities.

For many of us, our journals are a safe harbour in which to deposit racing thoughts- a place of privacy in which to address the darkness that we all struggle with from time to time.

This blog is often that safe journaling haven for me.

It is a way for me to demystify the darkness for myself- and thereby, perhaps, demystify it for my readers as well.  Maybe, by sharing the good, along with the bad, I bring some lightness in and create connection.

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I am driven to drawn dead birds.  Perhaps this is sad ranting through drawing.

Dead sparrow found outside the LGH cafeteria, 2012:

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Recall: my post from Feb 20, 2016:

To me, the journal is an essential vomitorium, a depository, a giant worry doll that contains it, holds it- allows for LETTING GO.  It allows me to make sense.

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Dead heron, Stanley Park, 2014

Also recall in my post from Feb 20, 2016:

It is evident that the journal was a depository of ramblings to quiet the brain- at the time I felt INSANE and incoherent- but now in retrospect I actually seem to make some sense. Though I want to yell at the woman I was then- for I seemed incapable of seeing the truth behind what was happening, I can now see that I, in the end, worked through to the truth on my own- I worked it out. I GOT IT.

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So can we look at these sad rants in a new way?  Read between the lines and yes- accept the words for their face value, but try to find the positive?

For example, on March 2, 2016, I wrote:

What if I stopped caring about ANYTHING?  

This can be read, and indeed it was written during a panic attack, as alarming.  But really- is it not simply about SURRENDER? 

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Maybe it goes the other way as well.  Maybe by looking past the positive veneer, peeling it back, we can perhaps get some answers as to what is really lurking underneath.

… through the sunny cellophane of which not very appetizing frustrations can be readily distinguished. – Vladimir Nabokov

Of course, let’s not forget that sometimes positive is actually positive, and negative is just really about a shitty sad day- nothing more, nothing less!

The key, I feel,  is to spew it out, record it, acknowledge it and, if so inclined, take time to look at it in a different way.

Anyway, I am rambling here.  Not sad ranting– rambling.  But today, I want to celebrate my not very anonymous sad rants.  I celebrate that I am driven to put pen to paper!

Related articles:

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The healing power of journaling and “making sense.”

To me, the journal is an essential vomitorium, a depository, a giant worry doll that contains it, holds it- allows for LETTING GO.  It allows me to make sense.  I find that journaling is different from keeping a diary.

The difference between diary keeping and journaling (to me):

A diary is a record of events, happenings, day to days.

Journaling is a place to vent, vomit, express without thought or judgement.

Both techniques tell my story.  Both are healing but to me, the stream-of-consciousness journaling is most therapeutic.

As I look back through my hundreds upon hundreds of messy journals- I find that the themes and struggles are repeated ad nauseum– but yet, though the despair and issues may seem repetitive, I see now that I have been able to WORK THROUGH gigantic life events (divorce, parent’s illnesses and deaths, parenthood, growth, severe anxiety and insomnia etc etc etc. stuff we all struggle with… ) via, what I call, a personal therapy process- and most seriously, through journaling, I have simply been able to walk through dark nights of the soul by simply acknowledging my story.

When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away – they own us, then they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending – to rise strong, reckon with our story and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends. – Brene Brown

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My journals feed my creativity.  They help me keep the creative process alive.

I just read through my March-June 2001 journal where I was in the depths of some of the hardest heartache I have ever experienced.   FUCKING AWFUL TIMES.  I read through my predictable grief of anger-denial-bargaining-depression-acceptance-repeat spiral… Ramblings of pleading, notes to self, articles of interest, and yet- somehow by the end- a giant paradigm shift.

It is evident that the journal was a depository of ramblings to quiet the brain- at the time I felt INSANE and incoherent- but now in retrospect I actually seem to make some sense. Though I want to yell at the woman I was then- for I seemed incapable of seeing the truth behind what was happening, I can now see that I, in the end, worked through to the truth on my own- I worked it out. I GOT IT.

Journal writing can help you improve your thinking and decision-making skills, release and review emotions, and refocus your choices and direction in life. Journaling can help you create an action plan to improve the quality of your life; tap into your goals, dreams and strengths; and address the obstacles—perceived and real—that are keeping you from achieving what you want. It can also help you relieve stress, since you can describe a problem and gain insights on how to resolve it. – SOURCE

I began journaling at age 6 (48 years ago) at the first house we rented in Canada after we moved here from Sweden. And though those pages are simply child drawings and lists, they were just as much a container for my anxiety as my journals (and indeed this blog) are now.

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So, yes- looking back on all my journals- the struggle seems always to be the same, and indeed the boxes piled up behind me as I write this, do seem to be the maniacal ramblings of Dr. Mabuse– yet, they contain evidence that I am able to make it through what life throws at me- by being fully honest, at least with MYSELF.

I continue to carry a journal and pen with me everywhere I go.  The greatest tool when anxiety hits.  I still vomit out the seemingly same old stuff.  But I AM HERE and I AM MOVING FORWARD!  I love growing old, I love surviving, I love today, and I love that in my darkest of dark moments, I can still find a journal and a pen- and chicken scratch my way back to the light.


Please note, my endless ramblings and pages and this blog ARE NOT A PLEA FOR HELP nor INTENDED FOR ANYONE TO WORRY ABOUT ME.  Worry instead if I stop writing, stop vomiting, stop exploring the darkness.  Worry when I have a pasted on smile and hum under my breath, through the sunny cellophane of which not very appetizing frustrations can be readily distinguished, as Nabokov wrote in Lolita.

I am simply sharing what works for me.  Sharing the process.  When darkness hits and I write, I am simply working it out- like today, I feel light- BECAUSE I WROTE IT OUT!

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Is this the purpose of journaling?  As the life raft?  My maintenance of my mental health?  The recording of dark lovely struggles, white knuckling, holding on to the ledge trying not to fall any further.  And so I keep asking, keep scribbling:

What am I fighting?

What can I surrender to?  How do you surrender?

Am I meant to be here exactly as I am now?

Are things really exactly as they should be?

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I began these pages for myself, in order to think out my own particular pattern of living, my own individual balance of life, work and human relationships. -Anne Morrow Lindbergh

 

 

ART SALE: One-of-a-kind journals 

One-of-a-kind journals with hand-drawn, embroidered covers containing  12 of my original journaling exercises

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I have been developing a little project for awhile now, inspired by my desires to:

• combine my learned lessons from years of facilitating art sessions

• reach more people that doesn’t require arranging in-person workshops.

But I want to do it in a very personal way.

 So what you get is a hand-drawn and hand-written product- and no two journals are alike!

This is not a published handbook or photocopied exercises.  This is a tangible, personal art program.

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Each journal is a composition book with a unique cover– featuring surprise images (you never know what you’re gonna get) on the front and back, hand-drawn by me.

These images are used to inspire certain exercises in the journal.

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The Badger/Crumb edition front cover
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The Badger/Crumb edition back cover

Inside you’ll find 12 of my original journaling exercises to facilitate you to explore in a safe and fun way.  I also include an opening and closing exercise.  Each exercise takes up about 4-8 pages.

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Cost: $135.00

This is not just a journal

It’s essentially a 12-session personal workshop series!

How to purchase: $135.00 CAD Plus $8.00 shipping 

Payment options:

1. Email transfer directly to britakatarina@gmail.com

2. PAYPAL

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You will then email me a shipping address and I will create your unique journal.  It will take about 3-4 weeks to receive it.

Group rates available for 5 or more. 

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Mouse edition front cover

  

Mouse edition back cover

And yes- you can then share these exercises.  And share your results with me!  I’d love to see where you take it!  There is no right or wrong- just freedom!  My goal is to spread the empowering/expressive force of creative journaling!

 

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INNER CRITIC Series Part 4 of 6: CAUTERIZE #journalexercise

The inner critic is always worth a revisit.  I have broken the series into 6 parts:

1. RANT

2. JUDGE

3. INVESTIGATE

4. CAUTERIZE

5. TEASE

6. EMBRACE

Each exercise starts with a journal entry and/or mindmap.  Then we look at the emotions that come up as we share openly.  I encourage you to experiment by sharing your thoughts in the comments here.  Share your rants and judgements.  Judge me freely; judge yourself.  It’s all good.  Let’s demystify.  Let’s take off the mask.  Let’s remove the hesitation.

INNER CRITIC series part 3 of 6: INVESTIGATE

In PART 1 we ranted without hesitation.  We let the ugly out.  We then identified certain emotions that came up.

In PART 2 we dug a little deeper into the emotions that came up, laying out the evidence for judicial review.

In PART 3 we examined the facts to get to some truths.

You can accept or reject the way you are treated by other people, but until you heal the wounds of your past, you will continue to bleed. You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex, but eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life. You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories, and make peace with them.

― Iyanla Vanzant, Yesterday, I Cried

Sometimes the truth can hurt.  Sometimes pulling off the scab can reveal a wound we are not always ready to address.  So today- let’s slow down.  Let’s cauterize the wound.  Write, mindmap or draw out what this means to you.

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Pick an animal symbol that resonates with you today.  Research it.  What lessons can you learn?  This is good brain gym.

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REMINDER:

You are worth of love and belonging.

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INNER CRITIC series Part 3 of 6: INVESTIGATE #journalexercise

The inner critic is always worth a revisit.  I have broken the series into 6 parts:

1. RANT

2. JUDGE

3. INVESTIGATE

4. CAUTERIZE

5. TEASE

6. EMBRACE

Each exercise starts with a journal entry and/or mindmap.  Then we look at the emotions that come up as we share openly.  I encourage you to experiment by sharing your thoughts in the comments here.  Share your rants and judgements.  Judge me freely; judge yourself.  It’s all good.  Let’s demystify.  Let’s take off the mask.  Let’s remove the hesitation.

INNER CRITIC series part 3 of 6: INVESTIGATE

In PART 1 we ranted without hesitation.  We let the ugly out.  We then identified certain emotions that came up.

In PART 2 we dug a little deeper into the emotions that came up, laying out the evidence for judicial review.

If you judge, investigate. – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Today let’s carry out a systematic or formal inquiry to discover and examine the facts of so as to establish the truth.

Go back to your mindmap:

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Focus in on one particular branch/emotion.

I chose:

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Create a new mindmap around the branch you decided to focus on and in a stream of consciousness way, elaborate on your investigation. [Ideally you do this for every branch of your Part 2 mindmap.]

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We often shy away from digging deep as it may expose truths we are just too scared or too tired to address.  We tend to doubt ourselves.  Our abilities.  Our freedom to express openly.

But have fun with it.  Is there some kind of truth/lesson that comes up as you address that emotion that resulted from your Part 1 rant?  Is there something new to learn?

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 Truth: A lot of my issues simply come from a need to control that which I could never and never will be able to control.  

It is by doubting that we come to investigate, and by investigating that we recognize the truth. – Peter Abelard

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REMINDER:

You are worth of love and belonging.

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“Hey over here- over HEAR!” Bathtub musings. #journal

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This that this that

I throw you the unknown

This that this that

Hey over here, over- HEAR!

Cart on a cup over rocks in a bird’s stomach

Soaring crashing

Overview- over this view, so over this view

But not you and you but them.

Not this not- this right here.

Clear clear I love this. This! Right here.

Hysterically, she courts: Here Hear! Hear me!

Yes, yes, I hear right here.

But sometimes- sometimes I am so over this (over)view.

Released from… congrats.

Now what? I still wait. Weight wade wade into the shadow,

through the muck that smells deliciously mouldy.

Eyes just at the surface blink slowly slowly blinks winks laughs and takes in air

and algae and bird turd and chokes and bloats and bides-

Bides time until there is just enough. Just enough. Say… ten lousy dollars.

Let’s just say, ten lousy dollars. Enough-

Enough to buy a bun, two buns and two cups and a french press and time.

This this right here. Hear!

It’s good now. The shadows are good now.

Lay the hand on the moss. Sink the cheek into the moss.

The moth and the moss- in time.

In time, the root overtakes the bone and pulls it down, past the moss

and the rock and the roots and the decay. Away and overlay

and the sun through the leaves offers pockets of hope,

and the shoot and the root crush under the boot.

Here… Hear. HEAR! HERE!

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My retreat journal Part 2 of 6: Into the labyrinth

I experienced a life-changing weekend as I co-facilitated Creativity and Connection Retreat October 17-19, 2014 on Bowen Island with Laura Mack at Xenia Retreat

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Here are some journal excerpts so you can get a small glimpse as to how powerful the experience was for me.

Recall: PART 1 October 17, 2014 FRIDAY INTO SILENCE

Part 2 October 18, 2014 SATURDAY MORNING:

Photo credit: Xenia on Bowen Island
Photo credit: Xenia on Bowen Island

6:30 AM The darkness did not overwhelm me last night.  The porch lights from next door were enough to illuminate to make me feel calm.  At times my heart wanted to race but I breathed through it.  Amazing.  

My sleep was like skipping stones though.  Perhaps tonight I will feel safe to fully fall asleep.  

Laura woke everyone up with a GONG!  We are still in silence.  The breath I felt in the sanctuary was one of the best moments of silence- felt like the deepest heart-est breaths.  

Laura just came back with a surprise cup of coffee. Bliss.  

At 7 am we have breakfast in silence then at 8 meet for walking to the labyrinth (still in silence) then to the yurt for opening circle…  

Before breakfast I walked with my coffee to the yurt.  I keep being pulled to it.  Set up the archetypes using iPhone compass to fully align with NSEW directions.

I then stood for a long time leaning on the fence looking out over the meadow, feeling Mamma and Pappa.  

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Ready to let go of pain and unhappiness.  Just allow the joy of my childhood to be what now lifts me.  I am loved and I am deserving.  I am a daughter.  A woman in very aspect.  I am “the mother.”  There is no power or fear in that.  I full step into me.  Let go and start fresh yet carry on.  To be in this childhood summerhouse-type setting is powerful.  I have a ball in my throat and tears behind my eyes that need to burst forth but sitting at breakfast now.  

Kitchen in the lodge.  Photo by Laura Mack.
Saria at work in the kitchen in the lodge. Photo by Laura Mack.

Recalling dinner by Saria last night.  Exquisite.  Shepherd’s pie, mixed salad (with everything from the garden), beets in orange juice and vinegar… baked glazed pears with whipped cream, fresh muffins.  I just want to keep writing but I need to pause.  Grab a cup of coffee and make sure I eat.  The breakfast spread: everything including grilled avocados with egg.  I had muffins, granola, yoghurt, fresh fruit.  A participant sits beside me.  Voraciously reading about the history of the property.  I love her curiosity, and tireless quest for knowledge.  A kindred spirit that needs to ingest, to feed on life through research.  

This experience is intensely safe.  Comforting.  Excited about the day ahead.

"Xenia Retreat. Feeling full. Awed. Peaceful. Expanded. On purpose." - Laura (Walking to labyrinth, we paused at Opa.  Photo by Laura Mack.)
“Xenia Retreat. Feeling full. Awed. Peaceful. Expanded. On purpose.”
– Laura (Walking to labyrinth, we paused at Opa. Photo by Laura Mack.)

The labyrinth walk in silence.  Profound.  The walk in, I had scattered thoughts, breathing into this early morning musings by the meadow.  In the centre, I felt peace and clarity and white light.  I cried throughout the walk outward, grieving, mourning, letting go.  Holding, releasing, allowing.  

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 “The poet Marianne Moore famously wrote of ‘real toads in imaginary gardens,’ and the labyrinth offers us the possibility of being real creatures in symbolic space…In such spaces as the labyrinth we cross over [between real and imaginary spaces]; we are really travelling, even if the destination is only symbolic.”
― Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Photo by Laura Mack
Photo by Laura Mack

I picked up two mottled leaves as I started to walk outward.  They represent Mamma and Pappa as they entered the last few days before their hearts stopped.  

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But did they stop?  Did the family not just pick up the beat as we synchronized with them?  I had my ear to mom’s chest as her heart stopped.  But I beat with it and carried it on for her.  

How could I not consider this life that I have truly miraculous and worth living?  Truly miraculous and always worth living.

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Opening circle and breaking silence in the yurt at 9 AM.  We reflected on our dreams, our experience in the sanctuary and at the labyrinth.  Laura introduced the Symbols Way and the 4 archetypes that we will focus on this weekend- encouraging us to ask ourselves: 

Where are you now?  

What archetype are you not so in touch with? 

Our first art-making session included mark-making and revisiting the labyrinth by tracing our steps on top of my drawing.  Delicious.  

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“Show not what has been done, but what can be. How beautiful the world would be if there were a procedure for moving through labyrinths.”
― Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose

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Stay tuned for Part 3: Saturday late morning- Cyclops Goddess and the Matrilineal question to set the stage for Symbols Way…

“THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP is at the headwaters of every woman’s health. Our bodies and our beliefs about them were formed in the soil of our mother’s emotions, beliefs, and behaviors. To become optimally healthy and happy, each of us must get clear about the ways in which our mother’s history both influenced and continues to inform our state of health, our beliefs, and how we live our lives. Every woman who heals herself helps heal all the women who came before her and all those who will come after her.” – Dr. Christiane Northup

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And for information on more workshops and retreats!

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Sacred Contracts Journal Exercise Part 5 of 8: Throat Chakra

 

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SACRED CONTRACTS JOURNALING EXERCISE SERIES

PART 5 OF 8

THROAT CHAKRA

We are tapping into our calling, our purpose, our joy in this SACRED CONTRACTS journal series.  It is inspired by Caroline Myss.  The journal series is  an experiment on my part, and I welcome you to join along.

Recall Part 1: Future and Present where we took time to look at where we would like to be, and where we are in this moment.

In Part 2: Where are your energy leaks? we focused on our body signals and biography makes biology. 

In Part 3: What Masks Do We Wear? we examined the masks we wear to protect ourselves from being vulnerable.

In Part 4a: What is Your True Nature? we focused on our inner selves.

In Part 4b: Sacred Body we listened to the messages from our bodies.

Today, I challenge you to speak your truth.

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THE FIFTH CHAKRA represents your faith and higher communication. Here is where you discover your inner truth and use your voice to convey it to the world. Organs associated with the Fifth Chakra include the thyroid, trachea, neck vertebrae, throat, mouth, teeth, and gums. Spiritual and emotional issues that can block energy in the Fifth Chakra are the struggles between speaking versus listening, pushing forward versus waiting, and being willful versus compliant… – Dr. Christiane Northrup

 Journal or draw:

Take note of when your voice gets caught in your throat.

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Take note around when and with whom you feel safe to speak your truth.

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Begin the honest dialogue with yourself.  Work towards creating a safe space within your heart and mind so that when you speak your truth with anyone in any context, you allow the emotions and  you simply sit with them.

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A young woman’s healing journal.

My student, Rajwi, has an extraordinary journal and she shares her pages with us today.  How lucky we are to get such insight from this young spirit with an old soul!

Kudos to Rajwi’s art teacher for this great project- to create a journal within a secondhand book.  There is something quite magical about it.

And Rajwi’s art is pure magic.  Stay tuned for an upcoming exhibit Rajwi is working on around mental health advocacy and the power of art to heal.

Here are some highlights:

Be sure to check out Rajwi’s art blog: