Why I Love Art Journaling & Self Love


I seem to feel compelled, over and over, to explain why I promote art journaling, why I love creative challenges and also, why self love is so damn important.

So here I go again:

Why Art Journaling?

Art Journaling (and personal blogging as the digital form of art journaling) has allowed me to move through many depressions in my life. Ever since I received my first journal at 7 years old, I have used my journal as a space for personal reflection, insight and expression. It's been a free and safe space to connect the dots of my creativity. The journal is a space to capture ideas and to play with the chaotic elements of the mind. The journal is a space to dream, observe, interact with life around us, as well as within us. 

How is art journaling different than any other journaling or arting?

Art Journaling always involves visuals and words. That’s the only thing that defines it, as far as I’m concerned. My form of art journaling is often focused on depth-work and making meaning, because that is my training and orientation. But art journaling can also be a companion for creative projects, which is also just as valuable. 

Some of us are more image-based and some of us are more word-based, but either way, the intention of art journaling is to weave the two halves of the brain, the two principles of the universe: the masculine and the feminine. The art journal holds space for both our linear and non-linear processes. It holds space for our emotions, fantasies & intuitive guidance as well as our story-telling, planning & problem-solving. It is both a space to capture our experience of life as it unfolds, to process the patterns of our past, and to channel what we want to manifest in our future. I believe it is opening up to our unique wholeness, and in particular, the integration of the masculine and feminine within, that brings us into our deepest potential and highest purpose. Art Journaling does just that. And the best part is it’s a low cost activity available to nearly everyone. 

Have I convinced you yet?

Okay, so why a month-long challenge?

I love time-based, daily, compassion-based (or internally-based) challenges because they work. They push us to reach beyond our normal limitations and comfort zones, but not from a place of external pressure, but rather from a place of inner organic expansion. The most inspiring, creative and productive times in my life were when I was in school or when I participated in creative challenges. Creative challenges have an awakening, reaffirming affect. They affirm who we are in our truest sense. And they affirm our connection to others. They grow community. And, they help us to create new habits that are more aligned with our higher selves. 

And what is Self Love?

Ah, this is a big one. And it’s a relatively new one, for me. 

Growing up, the message I had about self love was that it was embarrassing, shameful and should be hidden. I felt that I shouldn’t love myself and others shouldn’t love themselves. In this culture, we see so much narcissism that we get confused--we hope we aren’t narcissistic, or selfish, or have a big ego. We wouldn’t dare possibly share that we like or, god forbid, love ourselves. What if someone was offended or didn't agree that we were lovable?

Well I am on a mission to bring us into a much more expanded idea of what it means to wholly love ourselves with out sounding too much like a Self-Help guru from the 1980's.

What is self love? What is the difference between self love and narcissism, selfishness or egotism?

Self Love is about loving your wholeness. Loving all the parts. Including the ego, and its “petty” attachments and desires that allow it to keep going. It’s about loving the wounded parts, with their drive to heal, to become whole again. It’s about loving the heart, the natural healer we all possess, loving its feelings that radiate out—the joy, but also the grief. It’s about loving the body, with its flaws, its way of revealing the truths that the inside can no longer hold in. It’s about loving the world, too—our interaction with it. It's about loving our experience of the world—the vulnerability that comes just from being open and receptive.

Narcissism is not Self Love, in fact, it’s the opposite. Narcissism is loving only a fixed image of one of your selves. It is an unhealthy attachment to the frozen mask that covers a part of ourselves that is deeply wounded, so wounded that it cannot be loved. So in fact, ironically, Self Love is the cure for narcissism. The warmth of our love can melt even the most frozen, stuck, rejected places within.

Self Love is about The Self with a capital S. In Jungian terms, the Self is the organizing principle, the center that holds all conscious and unconscious experience. The Self is a microcosm of an individual that reflects the macrocosm of the universe. The Self holds all the smaller selves, or identities. And through this holding, we allow healing and transformation. The Self is the full potential of what is human, what is felt, imagined, thought about, seen, heard, sensed, tasted, touched, and also what is in shadow. The Self is wholeness. It is round, and with out end. Its center touches all centers. Its circumference has edges, but no end. Jung discovered the Self archetype is represented by a Mandala. A circle. 

To love The Self is to love all that you are, all that you experience. To unfreeze the parts of your heart that are afraid or ashamed. It means to actually feel into your heart. Bring its awareness to your life, to call on it when you are anxious or lonely. It means to practice non-judgmental awareness—within and around you. To know that all potential lives inside you and to judge it would be to cut yourself off from an aspect of life. 

Whether you participate in the art journal challenge, or not, I invite you to enter this new year, on this day of the full moon, to allow yourself to love yourself, all parts, voices and uncertainties. To make more and more space for what it is to be human. To let your heart heal you. 

With our self love in tact, we can change our outer world. I do not believe it’s possible to bring lasting change in the world until we fully can accept and love our inner world.

Let's love ourselves fully into 2018 so we can create a world flows from our own radical irrepressible self love.

As Always, Love & Creativity,