I am currently holding the first online journaling class from Endless Exhale. It’s called “But I’m Not A Writer! A Four-Week Journey of Journaling” and it’s about writing as a means of connecting to the self. It’s not about the writing that’s produced, but rather the process. The format is pretty simple: four times a week, I email out journaling prompts for people to choose from/write into on their own schedule. Once a week, I include a recording of myself leading a brief mindfulness or centering exercise.
I mean, this has been brewing in me for quite a while, and it’s awesome to make it a reality. I really love writing the prompts. I always love leading mindfulness practice–it actually helps me center *myself*. And, because it’s the first class, I’ve been writing in response to the prompts. AND-like the participants, I’ve not necessarily been doing them the same day they are sent out. Or in any particular order, especially when I have a few or more from which to choose.
But the most fantastic, the real joy, is the inspiration I feel not only reading people’s writing, but watching them connect to themselves. Stretch themselves. Become aware of themselves through the words that leave their fingertips (or pens) as they respond to the prompts. And support each other on top of it. Most creative endeavors are a double-edged sword: they are a wonderful outlet for the creative spirit, and at the same time they are kind of a bitch-slap to the ego, which then comes out swinging. “what the hell do you think you’re doing?” the ego taunts. “really? you’re going to share THAT?” And yet, they do. And then others say: “wow-I’m so glad you posted this!”
It’s a risk, to unleash and connect to the creative spirit. It’s even more of a risk to share it, with strangers no less. But the rewards? They cannot be beat. To be heard, to have others witness your process….I’ve found few things more deeply touching, more gratifying.
So to offer these prompts and meditations and bear witness to the creative spirit waking up and peeking out has just been such an honor for me.
I had decided earlier that tonight I was going to sit in my writing nook and play some yoga music and write into some prompts. And then, something kinda weird happened. I saw a few memes and articles on Facebook, all in a row (with no other posts in between), one after the other, that spoke to me. That spoke to where I am right now on my path. I wanted to print them out; but more, I wanted to capture this place, create a snapshot of my emotional and spiritual landscape right now.
So….I made a different choice. I decided to make a collage. I either saved or screenshot the stuff I wanted from Facebook, and printed them all out. And then I went to get my sketchbook, which I have from a visual journaling class I took online last year (one of the many inspirations for this very class I’m offering now). And when I opened my sketchbook, I found some interesting pictures I had clipped from magazines. All of women, looking sort of mystical in long, flowing dresses, either in the woods, or at the edge of a cliff.
“well…..yup,” I thought. That captures just as much of my inner landscape, where I feel I am on my journey tonight. So I added them. The page wasn’t big enough to so I put some things partly hanging off the page. And I topped off this artistic feat with coloring–with crayons–the white spaces left in between.
Let me add here that my inner critic was whispering to me the whole time. I’m a writer–I always tell people “I cannot draw a stick figure!” I am usually quite reluctant, and self-conscious, to even attempt to produce anything resembling visual art. That’s where the inspiration from my class held me up-they, for the most part, do not consider themselves writers. If they can write, I can collage.
And I hung it on the “inspiration” part of my bulletin board in the nook. But right next to the corner, so it sort of juts out into the corner of the nook itself. The perfect spot so that when I sit down to do whatever I am doing here, it’s right in my field of vision. It both inspires and soothes me to look at it, the photos and the words.
And just after I hung it, my ego said: “what is THAT? that is not prompt responses.”
I smiled, and nodded. “Nope,” I thought. “it isn’t. But I followed my inspiration and connected with myself.” I’m happy with it, so that inner critic voice (which I’ve had on retainer, I believe, since birth) doesn’t really have any place to land. At least tonight.
And this is all from the inspiration of the people in the journaling class.