Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open. Natalie Goldberg

I’ve spent the weekend scribbling, drawing, and coloring with markers in my illustrated journal. There are some examples of beautifully illustrated journals on the internet, but I wonder if trying to make them too beautiful might not defeat their purpose. We lead messy lives and one of the problems we have in life is trying to make things seem more perfect than they are.

Our journal is a place, to be honest with ourselves; we can pour our heart and soul onto a page in words, art, or both. Sometimes it’s hard to find the words and a picture might let us get everything out, all that angst out on the page, maybe we want to color in the blank space, or maybe we don’t. This art is now called Neurographic Art and was developed by a Russian psychologist, artist, and architect, Dr. Pavel Piscarev in 2014. He has trademarked the name and developed some practices around it, but this is not new and many people have scribbled lines. He’s given it a name and to teach it you must be certified.

This is somewhat like Zentangles where the name is trademarked but the patterns are not trademarked they have been used in knitting, masonry, architecture, etc, throughout the centuries. What they’ve done is put them in a book, named and provided the steps to create them, which is very helpful because figuring out a complicated pattern is tricky.

In 2014 I picked up a book on Zentangles and they are great to add to an illustrated journal. Lines, circles, and dots create a pattern. Four patterns create a tile, but we can do anything we want with them, and combining Neurographic lines with Zentangle patterns seems like a winning combination. Someone is going to come along and trademark a name for that if they haven’t already.

Writing is another powerful way to sharpen the mental saw. Keeping a journal of our thoughts, insights, and learning promotes mental clarity, exactness, and context. Stephen Covey

Art is for all of us, and expressing ourselves on the page might be one of the best ways to sort out our feelings, fears, and goals, and to deal with the problems and challenges in life. Art isn’t only for those whose artwork will end up in a museum or gallery. It doesn’t need to be hung up on our walls, but it can be.

My son is talking about ChatGPT and it has been mentioned at Toastmasters as well. Some may think how great to have a computer program that will write a book and when I publish it will be purchased by millions. Most writers are not getting rich from writing and publishing books even when they are traditionally published. For many writers, the real benefit of writing a book was the journey of writing the book. Books change us and make us look at the world and our understanding of our place in it. The benefit of ChatGPT may be the questions we have to ask to get it to write what we want and coming up with the questions may be what is beneficial to us.

The benefit of art is in making it, expressing ourselves on the page, and when we keep that art in a journal we can look back on it and see our progress. The words and pictures will bring us back to that day. We think we remember everything about our life but I read my journals and I’m surprised by what is in them. There are events written about in my journal I don’t remember until the journal jogs my memory.

A written journal or an illustrated journal may be a way to examine our lives, we may get more out of life by looking for things to put into our journal, and we may live more fully, and drink more deeply from the cup of life. Does our life call out to be documented in some way? Isn’t this why we love taking photos? They can also be included in our illustrated journal, as well as other memorabilia that we can glue or tape in.

How do we document our lives, is there a new practice we would like to try? Is there an old practice we’d like to pick up again? Will keeping a journal help us to live well from the inside out? Will it change our lives in ways we can’t imagine?

In the journal, I do not just express myself more openly than I could to any person” I create myself. Susan Sontag

Documenting little details of your everyday life becomes a celebration of who you are. Carolyn V. Hamilton

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. William Wordsworth

Thank you for reading this post. Please come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

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