Happy Birthday – Julie’s Journal…1 yr old!

(rewritten from my real journal)
I am sitting here…in a room…alone. Julia is off working concessions at the soccer game. Mary is spending tonight finishing up a sculpture to meet a deadline for her class. Cyndi is somewhere with someone else doing something I don’t know anything about. That takes care of us “regulars” and I doubt anyone else will show up.

I take a sip of my Coke from my dinner at McDonald’s. I look around me. I decide to draw the equipment crammed into the corner of our room. A TV, VCR, computer, projector, a podium, a folding chair and an overhead projector (not shown). It makes for an interesting drawing…cords going everywhere…reminds me of Sam’s desk.

My drawing is done, so I guess I will write now.

Being a mom of three young kids and a full time teacher, I get very little downtime. (BACK-UP to one year ago). I found myself longing for opportunities to express myself in creative ways, but every moment grew increasingly frustrated with not being able to grab even one minute to let my creative self free to explore, invent, create and play.

The only times that I found myself being creative at all were in my job as an elementary art teacher making sample projects…and even those were rarely developed and finished.

In the rare circumstance that I found myself with extra time, time for myself, I would become so overwhelmed with the thought of using the opportunity to be creative that I would many times not even be able to decide what to do before the time would quickly pass away.

What could I do? My scrapbooking, which I had fallen so far behind in, provided a time to use my creative side…but I wasn’t consistant in working on it. I remember that when I was taking art classes, I was producing art, and being creative on a regular basis. But then that was most likely because of deadlines and trying to get a good grade. That’s typically a good motivator. Maybe I am just not motivated. So I tried to think of something I could do to get motivated…aha! I will take a class!

So I checked out the classes on the Spring schedule at our local art museum. I read through the course descriptions a few times. Illustrated Journaling stood out. I really had very little idea what illustrated journaling was even about…so I went to Google and did searches for visual journals, art journals, sketchbook journals and illustrated journals. I was blown away by what I saw. Site after site, page after page of people’s lives. I came across an illustrated blog. What’s this!? I had heard of blogs before. But I had never seen anything like this. I had found Danny Gregory‘s site. I was amazed at this world of illustrated journaling that I was discovering. I was inspired and awestruck by Danny’s work. What captured me was how his illustrations tell a story. A story of his life. The drawings were of his family, his breakfast, his journaling supplies, the condiments on the table of a restaurant he ate at, an apple he ate, and items from piles of trash…to name a few. He draws the ordinary things he sees around him.

“Wow!” I thought about this. (Not sure why this was such a new concept to me) Danny is sharing his life with the world through his blog, his many publications and wonderful books. I felt that I could identify with him. I began to understand something about myself.

I had, my whole life, put my creativity, my talent into a nice little box. (Hope this makes sense…I don’t know if I am all that great at analogies) I only allowed myself to open this box when I felt the conditions were perfect for using the contents I held so dear. If I didn’t have a good idea, the box stayed closed. If I didn’t think I had enough time, the box stayed closed. If I didn’t feel good about myself, the box remained closed. I had more reasons for keeping my talent locked away than I did for using it. I created for myself a whole list of unwritten rules about where and when and why I could create. On rare occasions, the contents of this box would leak out and in a spontaneous moment I would find myself lost in joy of creating, playing and being free until reality set in (picture a baby crying) and I would quickly lock it away again to save it for when it was allowed to be used. You can see why I was unhappy, frustrated, tired.

In those minutes (hours?) spent researching and discovering this new concept (new to me) of illustrated journaling, I was finding that there were many other people out there, like Danny, who were drawing their life, expressing their thoughts on creativity and sharing their inspirations with whoever happened across their site. I decided to investigate journaling futher and signed up for the class the day before it started.

The class was a great adventure with other people who shared common interests. I loved each session and felt as if each class were a little vacation for me. The two hours of inspiration and creating each week gave me a kind of energy I had not felt for the longest time. I started journaling…making it a goal to draw & write everyday. I started my own blog…scanning my drawings from my journal. I have finished 3 journals since then. This blog keeps me accountable to keep my journals going…but more than that, my journaling has given me a whole new outlook on life. Seriously. I am not the same person I used to be.

I don’t wait around for inspiration, I find it. Right here in front of me. I notice things that I didn’t even think about before. I record things in my journal, not worrying about if it sounds good or if it is a good drawing or painting. I make mistakes and I learn from them. I draw what I see, what I feel…I draw my life. My journals are so much a part of my life that I can not imagine not keeping one.

It has been one year that I have been keeping an illustrated journal. I have lost that box. There is nothing in it anymore anyway. I use my talent everyday. I may not be creating wonderful masterpieces (right now), but I am spending time each day (even if its just 5 minutes) using the gift that God has given me. I still have so much to learn and look forward to each day and what it has to teach me.

Thank you to all you fellow bloggers who share your life through your drawings. You are a daily source of inspiration to me.

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