Celebrating Myself Home With An Art Journal

Around this time last year I was writing  about home.

Pondering its nature and wondering what it means to go back.

Reminding myself that to truly appreciate home, we have to leave it first.

So in the final post of the series, I wrote:

Leave home we do, throughout our lives. But I don’t just mean those times when we box up our stuff, pack up the car, and hit the road to a new dwelling. No, I mean all those times we leave a role or stage of life, in order to transition to a new one.

Little did I know how true those words would be for me this year.

In fact, I’ve been a walking, talking advertisement for the theory that you don’t need go anywhere to feel far from home. Like transition expert Nancy Schlossberg says, “even when nothing is happening externally, everything is changing internally.”

It’s been sort of like taking a road trip, in the fog, without a specific destination, but with lots of questions.

Familiar questions, to be sure. But questions without concrete answers.

You know. Questions like:

How do I balance my needs with who and what I love so much?

Where and how do I want to live?

Who am I becoming?

What’s it all about?

How can I pay attention to the sweet, precious moments of life?

Where, oh where, does the time go?

Good questions. But with a tendency to leave me feeling unmoored. Unhooked. Untethered.

Sometimes, there’s an odd satisfaction that comes when I  just give in and simply allow myself to float in that place.

But as the year unfolded, just floating wasn’t enough. Last summer I decided I needed an anchor, a home away from home.

So on a whim, (and after reading a book by Natalie Rogers), I picked up a small sketch pad and some colored pens.

And my first art journal came to life.

In the beginning I had no idea where it was going.

Even though I rarely gave it the suggested ten to twenty minutes a day, I noticed early on that each time I sat down with it something shifted.

No matter what I did, I felt a shift.

A scribble.

A doodle.

A quick free-write.

A mood expressed with words and images.

All of it warmed me. Embraced me. Made me breathe a little easier. A definite shift.

Right about then things got pretty interesting.

My art journal took on a life of its own. It wanted more than colored pens. It called out for paint. Pastels. Crumpled magazine images. Quotes. Snippets of newspaper articles.


Even messages from the year’s blog posts started showing up. The stuff about purposeless play and my philosophy for living a meaningful life.

On one particularly confusing day, Joe the Quilter found his way in, looking remarkably like Joan Crawford in drag.

But his (her?) words rang loud and clear: You don’t have to know what you’re doing. You don’t have to wait to start. You can find out what you’re doing by doing it.

So true. In both life and art.

Perhaps most unexpected has been the way my art journal accommodates my deeper self and helps me make sense of my dreams (the sleeping kind). It all started when I pasted in a photo of a young woman with pigtails. She reminded me of a recent dream; I knew she was a metaphor, an archetypal symbol. And I wanted to talk to her through the process of active imagination. Although that can sometimes be difficult, it wasn’t this time. Her words easily tumbled out, gently challenging me: You think it needs to be perfect to find me, but I’m always, always, always available. Stop pushing me aside.

So there you have it. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m truly, madly, deeply in love with my art journal.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that I’m really showering all that love and affection on myself, since my art journal is me. And that’s what an art journal can give us:  a reminder that we are enough, that we are creative and whole and full of imagination. And even during times of complicated transition, we can find our way back to ourselves. Just like the lyrics say in one of my favorite holiday tunes, we can celebrate ourselves home, even when it’s a metaphorical home.

Please, celebrate me home.
Play me one more song that I’ll always remember
I can recall whenever I find myself too all alone
I can sing me home.

Singing us home. I think that has a nice ring to it.

So as this year comes to a close, I wish for you a time of singing yourself home, metaphorical or otherwise.

A time of joy and enoughness.

I’m out of here for a few weeks, but set to return during the first week of January. So stay tuned because I’ve got some new goodies in store for you.

28 thoughts on “Celebrating Myself Home With An Art Journal

  1. What a treat to get a sneak peek into your private art journal, Patty! I so love your creative spirit and colorful musings!

    Lately, I have been thinking a lot about how over-rated words sometimes are as a form of expression. There can be so much talking (writing) at times, and not enough listening, and I know I am guilty of this more often than I’d care to admit. So, it’s nice to have you share this with us because I just might try it.

    Thank you, as always, for your presence in the blogosphere this year. I very much appreciate your blog, your creativity, your wit and wisdom — you.

    Have a wonderful time away and I wish you and Dave a new year like no other! xoxo

    • Aw, thanks Belinda. You make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And let me just quickly say – all the same back at you, my friend. xo

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  3. I really like your art journal. I like your Joe the Quilter and the freaky cyclops girl. I used to draw a lot when I was in high school. I always had little sketch pads and would doodle random shapes and turn them into pictures. Now I enjoy watching my daughter draw. She loves to sit at the table and draw and color. It’s fun watching her creations take life as they move from her mind onto the page.

    • Yes, you hit on the spirit of all of this by talking about your daughter, Eric. Kids are so good at “just letting it flow out.” And that’s what I’ve gotten back in touch with when I art journal. Thanks for the visit!

  4. Patty –
    It is so wonderful that you have found this part of yourself – and the creativity is so fun and delightful. Letting yourself really “play…” I find that it is often challenging to let go… truly take up pen or a blank page and just… let go and create/play.
    Have a wonderful break and thank you for sharing this with us!

    • Oh yeah, M. Letting go is so “it” for me lately. I love that feeling when I’m art journaling. Thanks so much for your visit.

  5. Hi Patty,
    I’m enamored with the photos you’ve taken and shrouded. You’re so fun, creative, and full of joy. I just love this and love seeing you play.
    I’m singing you home, Patty of the Pleasant Fields. What a great phrase, “Singing us home.” You made me smile.
    Enjoy your break and thanks for whetting my appetite for what you have in store for 2011. I’ll be here with bells on.
    Tra la la, diddle de dee, there’s nothing like a winter break! Enjoy!

    • “Fun, creative, and full of joy.” Now, I wonder who else here those words apply to??? Thanks much for the visit, Lori.

  6. Hi Patty — yes, that is a challenge to the usual way of thinking, isn’t it — the notion that God (the word I use, at least) is always available, even if this or that aspect of our lives isn’t perfect right now — that God cannot be earned or bought. (At least, this is how I interpreted the photo of the girl, anyway.) What a challenge it is to remain aware of that in every moment, no matter how much the world around us may tell us differently.

    • Nice take on it, Chris. I might not call her God but she sure does represent the need to remain aware in every moment. Thanks for that!

  7. Dear Patty,

    I love, love, love the quote from Joe the Quilter. And I want to thank you for inspiring me to create my own art journal for 2011. I’ve been collecting quotes, taking pictures, and writing, but never thought to combine all three in one place.

    Merry Christmas!

  8. Hi Patti,
    Wow I love it. I used to do art therapy with clients, kids, teens, women and men. It’s amazing what can be uncovered. I love your journal and I’ll be singing you home as well. I hope for you peaceful holidays and fun, play and joy in the new year!

  9. Hi Patty!

    Really lovely post on creating an art journal — pretty! Doing something because you want to do it, not because it’s going to get you something monetary or a promotion, is an idea we all need to return to.

    The word goal crops up all over the place and it’s so generic and the outcome so generic that it’s getting in the way of living that meaningful life that requires one to wander, to meander through it without goals.

    (here’s to a goal-free year?)

    I’m an oil painter. Been doing so for maybe 8 years. Ironically, I wasn’t doing it for the money but to help me be a more colorful writer. To do some cross-creativity training! (Yet, folks wanted to buy my paintings.)

    I paint wild and thick and bold. The messier I get physically the better. (ooh, a new essay. thank you fellow muse!)

    My latest two paintings are just about done. Jimmy will take the pictures and I will post on my site so you can see.

    Whatever returns us to our free, wild natural state. speaks to me. My first life shop was called “free the wild woman within.” Maybe I should run that one again … on-line. maybe with you? want to?

    Anywho, I’m glad you’ve done this. As you mentioned on my site, our path shifts and we need to shift with it or we end up on a wrong path. If we could get back in touch with our instinctual selves it would be easier to stay on the true one it because it requires us to be in full heightened sensory mode – like in childhood.

    Happy holidays!

    p.s. I still wear pigtails at times.

    • Oooh, so many juicy bits in your comment, G. Your painting style sounds a lot like process painting, which I’ve become fascinated with. I love your wildness. And that would be a blast to do something together. And goals? I’ve never quite gotten it. Once in grad school I said to a teacher: “maybe we should have clients set the goal and then forget the goal.” I don’t even know exactly what I meant. Something about goals being flexible and lighter, because they sure can bear down on us and make life feel hard.

  10. Oh, wow, you’ve totally inspired me. I’m so drawn to creating an art journal and yet I’ve convinced myself that it will be way too complicated for me to do. But starting out with colored pencils and some doodles, I can handle. And I love what you wrote about how every time you sat down with the art journal, something shifted. I want me some of that. I’ve got a blank sketchbook sitting right next to me, I’m going to find some colored pencils and get started.

    • Hey, you and I have that in common, Charlotte. The ones I’d seen seemed very complicated, more artsy/crafty than process oriented. That’s what I love about Natalie Rogers book. She really bottom-lines things and moves away from end result. I think it’s great you’re going to try it and you know I want to hear all about it.

  11. Patty,

    I love your journal and what you’ve done. It makes me want to pick up a journal again and perhaps follow your example. I written journals most of my life, but they’ve been all about words. I like how you added the pictures. You’ve inspired me, but then you usually do.

    I hope you have a very good New Year; one that continues your quest to learn more about yourself, as well as helping others do the same:~)

    • Oh, thank you so much, Sara. I just bet you would love an art journal. You’re a very deep, wise, creative person, and seems to me it would fit you to a tee.

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