Get yourself an ugly journal…

I have a special journalling quest for you today.  Are you up to the challenge?

Get yourself an ugly journal. A cheap one. One you can never feel fond of.

Trust me, you do not want to get a pretty journal for what we are about to do…

Today we are going to create a ‘Sh*t Book’, a ‘Poo Book’, a Craptastic Account of all that is truly suckful, petty and awful in our lives.

We are going to make a journal that will act like a giant word-thought-and-emotion toilet: a dumping ground for all the toxic waste that we need to get out, in order to start feeling better.

I love journalling. And most of what I write is positive, creative and exploratory. It’s the sort of writing I actually want to go back and read over when I’m done. (See examples of how to do that here!)  Even years later I can go back to those finished books and take inspiration and guidance from their pages.  Rainbows, butterflies, and all that wonderful stuff that dreams are made of…

But sometimes… you know how it is.  Life makes you mad.  You wake up with a great knot of pain or resentment or frustration. Or you get that mean pettiness, where everything is going to come out as a whine or a complaint.

Image by Inglgs at photobucket.com

That sort of thinking is no good to anyone. It’s like garbage. It just needs to be dumped before it pollutes the rest of you and spills over into your day.

Sometimes the toxic waste in your mind pollutes what would otherwise be a charming place to be – Photograph by Peter Cade, Getty Images

But we don’t want to go dumping that stinking thinking in the middle of our rainbows and butterflies! We need to dump responsibly.

That’s why we are going to create a special book just for rubbish thinking. We can happily write away in our ‘Sh*t Book’, recording every last detail of the sheer crappiness and horror, the drudgery and outrage, the blow by blow accounts of the things that depress us, upset us, tick us off, push us into ugliness.

You can even paint, sketch, collage and otherwise create. The thing that matters is finding a way to express the pain, hurt or other negativity within you.

Journal Activity:

Find your ugly journal. You can even make an ugly cover for it if you want. Use all those awful toilet colours – browns and blacks and nasty greens. Make it a worthy dumping ground for your terrible thoughts.

Then use any of the following prompts to get you started. Don’t worry about sentence construction, spelling or even what you say.  This is a dump, remember? So just follow the prompts and let it flow. Mind you, if you’ve already in that cranky space you might not need any prompting at all to get it off your chest…

  • I couldn’t be more angry about…
  • It is totally miserable that…
  • I can’t believe that he/she could…
  • The feeling eating a hole in me right now is because of…
  • If I’d had my way I would have told __________ that…
  • It’s Dumb! It’s so dumb that…
  • I hate…
  • Just the thought of ________ right now makes me…
  • Grrrrrr! The thing about all of this is that….
  • Hey! Let me tell you what I REALLY think…
  • I have never felt more __________  since…
  • It’s just not fair that…
  • I could scream right now because…
  • All I want to do is cry. I’m at the end of my rope and…
  • Here is a list of EVERYTHING that is pissing me off right now…
  • This is totally (insert favourite expletive or explanatory term). I had wanted to…
  • And yet again, cue drumroll, I am…
  • I feel like I’m never going to be able to…
  • It’s the same old thing –

There is only one rule with your ‘Sh*t Book’.  Don’t read back over it, and don’t share it with anyone. Ever. No-one can play in toxic wastegrounds safely.  You just get in, dump and get back out of there again as fast as you can.

You can choose to handle your ‘Sh*t Book’ in one of two ways. At the end of each writing session, rip out the used pages and burn them, shred them or in other happy ways destroy them. OR wait until you have filled the entire book and then destroy it.  Bury, burn, slash, mutilate, flush, dump, explode… Whatever works for you. You may also like the symbolism of binding your book with a cord or big bulldog clips to help keep everything safe until you can dispose of it responsibly.

This Photo courtesy of http://www.bradleygauthier.com

Art Journal Techniques:

Sometimes it’s easier to draw or paint, to rip and glue rather than to risk words.  Sometimes when you can’t even find the words, art can help you make a new language for healing.

I love this next clip! I was looking for something to explain art journalling to you, and this started out so well, because it’s about making messy art – ugly art even. Perfect for your ‘Sh*t Book’!

But you know how the Universe works.  There is something redemptive about clearing out the trash.  It always makes room for something new and brighter.

I was laughing by the end of this youtube how-to, because after the ugly start, she ended up painting…

Yep, you guessed it…

rainbows and butterflies…

Sending you lots and lots of love for the journey. Enjoy that ugly journal! ♥♥♥ xx

Simplicity is a choice…

Life is not complicated, only that we make it so.

♥ Nicole Cody

Yesterday, on my facebook page, someone told me that they longed for more simplicity in their lives. How could they make it so, they asked.

That’s a valid question given that we are surrounded, even bombarded, by media telling us we need this, we have to have that. To be successful our lives need to look a certain way, and we need to be able to measure up to certain expectations. Perhaps that is why shopping has become the number one pastime in so many countries.  And, of course, in order to have those things we need to work harder, and longer. We rack up more debt. We lose our freedom bit by bit, without realising what is happening.

I realised this after living in Palau. My life shrank down to one suitcase, an old but large hotel room, a smaller budget. Access to a car, but needing to go most places on foot. That smaller space, with few possessions was a major readjustment, but I soon found myself happier, freer, and filled with creativity. When I came home to Australia I walked around my house wondering how I had accumulated so much stuff.  There was so much to pay for, so much to keep clean, and I used so little of it!

Simplicity, like happiness, is a choice.

On first appearances that might seem unfair, or even impossible.  But think about where you are now.  Every single choice you made, every decision you took, led you to where you are.

And even if life has forced certain circumstances upon you (Global Financial Crisis, unemployment, illness) you still have power, because you still have the ability to choose your thoughts and actions.

If you’re in a place of complete overwhelm, I suggest you start here – with a post I wrote recently on burn out, how to recognise it and what to do about it.

Reverse Engineering

You could also try a process of reverse engineering.  This is where you pull something apart to figure out how it was made, so that you can copy or rebuild it, or even modify it. We need to reverse engineer your life, so that you can work out where to begin making changes.

Start with these questions:

  1. What is my daily routine?  Do this for each day of the week.  If there is no routine, just write down how much time you spend on the key areas in your life each day for one week by observing yourself honestly and recoding your actions.  It will average out. You can also do this for your partner or children too.
  2. What are my financial commitments? This is a biggie and some people have never taken the time to work this out. If you’re one of them I know it can be scary and confronting, but if you don’t have a true picture of where you are, you won’t be able to make sound decisions about where you go next.
  3. Look over your answers.  This is the critical part.  Is there time left over at the end of each week?  Is there money left over at the end of each week?Spare time is vital for a feeling of well-being, and for having adequate coping mechanisms for life. Being too tightly pinched for money generates great stress, which has a huge negative impact on health, relationships and energy levels.

Life is precious. It’s worth making changes to give you a more satisfying life. From experience I’ve learned that most stuff doesn’t make you happy. Certain stuff can make life easier and more pleasurable though.  Maybe you need a good computer, or a comfy arm chair, or a nice teacup, or a great holiday adventure. But what about the rest of your life?  How much of what you own do you actually use?

Can you get by with smaller, fewer or none at all? Are you giving time and energy to what really matters in your life. Maybe it’s time to actively simplify your life, bit by bit. Downsize, divest, say no to extra demands upon your time and energy. Look to places, jobs and people that support a more fulfilling lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be five-star to be enjoyable! Change doesn’t have to happen all at once, but when you have a plan it is far easier to create a new reality.

 

All change requires effort, but change is possible. In the end, imagine the choices and relationships in your life. Imagine removing them.  Is there a sense of loss or panic, or a sense of relief?  Sometimes it’s as simple as that.