writing monday: creating a personal zen space
Janna Krawczyk on Mar 5, 2018 in the art of being human, the art of creativity, the art of journaling, the art of the journal, writing monday, writing prompts |
how to journal
Happy Monday People! I want to meet you here, at the beginning of your week, to offer journaling ideas and inspiration to lift your spirit. My hope is to inspire reflection, power, and soul in your work and life through the art of longhand writing.
Sometimes I feel like I live in a pinball machine of incessant demands. I can barely finish a thought let alone listen to myself and my life. This is why I use a blank page and markers–it gives me space to harness my thoughts, ideas, and heart. After I write, I can better see, think, and act powerfully in my life.
With a journal and markers, you can create a personal zen space, wherever you are.
We cannot stop or slow life. There will not be a space in the future to catch our breath and finally reflect on things. The time is now. We humans need a space, a bubble, a hole in the bottom of a huge tree to think about life as it moves through us. A space to listen to the heart of matters. To ourselves.
This week, I encourage you to spend ten minutes each day–whenever– phone out of site, with pen, markers, or pencil and journal. Just you and the space. Begin each entry with the date at the top of the page and the words, Right now… At the end of the week, look back to see how life is flowing through you and you are flowing through life. You will be rewarded with self-insight.
Enjoy the art and soul of it!
Janna Krawczyk on Feb 26, 2018 in the art of creativity, the art of journaling, the art of the journal, writing prompts |
When I first came to writing in 1992, I was falling through the universe, trying to grab anything I could hold onto, flailing, failing, spinning. I had left a chaotic home and came to chaos in my mind as an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to make of this life.
my very first journal
One day–maybe in a coffee shop or browsing the bookstore–I found Natalie Goldberg’s seminal book, Writing Down the Bones, and it inspired me to buy my first official journal. Dressed tight in its hideous fabric, this journal was the first to introduce me to the power of reflection and intention. It also taught me the immense power of my own words in lifting me out of my darkness.
Sometimes things and people come to us when we need a lifeline. Ever since, writing has been mine.
Twenty-six years later, I am still writing. I have a bookshelf crammed with journals housing a lifetime of big and small moments. It has become a massive unedited memoir. The thing is, I rarely reread what I have written. It is the practice of writing–of pausing Time for a moment to take a good look at the life I am living and the person I want to be–that inspires me to write.
a creative life in writing
A common theme I hear from people who want to write is that they do not know how to begin. There is so much they want to write about, so many thoughts and so much to say, they are overwhelmed by the gravity of placing those first words.
I think the most profound things are also the simplest. And this belief has inspired these instructions for beginning:
1. Buy a journal you love. I like blank pages so I can be as free as possible as I create the page. My daughter Lucy prefers lines. Go with one that resonates with your soul.
2. Write the date and where you are at the beginning of every entry.
3. Enter the page with the words, “Right now…” Begin with this moment, where you are now. What is going on around you? What do you see/feel/hear? How old are you? What are you thinking/worrying/dreaming about? Begin with everything about your life right now–your age, your job, your relationships, your obligations and your frustrations–everything that is going on in your life and mind.
As you write, you will hit a vein, and you will find yourself writing about the things you need to write about. Eventually, you will uncover the song beneath the words, the heart of your dilemmas and the spaces of your growth. Your attention to your present circumstances will empower you by giving you a solid ground on which to stand and look deeply at your life.
Life is an art. Writing is the dance of mindful engagement.
changing my mind
Janna Krawczyk on Nov 7, 2017 in the art of being human, the art of journaling, the art of the journal, writing prompts |
Sometimes I use my writing to get my mind right. Coming from a champion lineage of depression and addiction, this is something I have to do on a regular basis, when my thoughts tend toward the negative and I am not being kind to myself. When negativity arises, I neuroplasticize. In other words, I change my mind. To do this, I simply write at the top of my page “thank you.” And then I begin filling the page with words and images and thoughts and things that I am grateful for in my life, from coffee to Oliver and Lucy to the warmth of sunlight through the windows in a cozy coffee shop. And it works. From the time I begin writing until the page is stuffed with words and color, I am able to alter my own emotional and mental state.
I often tell my students that life is not easy, being human is not easy. It wasn’t meant to be. But it’s how we navigate our humanness–bringing ourselves back when we fall out of grace–that heals our souls and makes us powerful.
As the sun slants away from summer and the days shrink and the darkness grows, we must to tend the light and warmth within. Next time you notice your thoughts leaning toward the negative, give yourself the gift of ten minutes, a blank page, and colorful markers, and pull out the grace within so you can see it and feel it. Again and again. This is the work of life.
learning how to unicycle
Janna Krawczyk on Nov 3, 2017 in the art of balance, the art of being human, the art of creativity |
I signed my daughter Lucy up for a unicycle class on Thursdays through November. When we got to the gym on the first day, I found out that the class was open to adults, so I joined. I am so excited! This photo is from last night, our second class. Lucy and I both started going short distances with no hands. I cannot wait to go down our street, which just got newly blacktopped last summer, and roll around the neighborhood with Lucy on our unicycles.
I love learning new things, filling my creative well with little adventures along my way. It keeps my brain fresh, my body awake. Unicycling makes me sweat with the effort of moving my body a new way. I love it.
Life has taught me that I can’t dwell in a routine too long or I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel and I get depressed. I guess this speaks to the dance of balance–knowing when the dance is stale and needs new breath.
what will I wear to work tomorrow?
Janna Krawczyk on Nov 3, 2017 in the art of the journal, the life of a writer |
A couple of days ago at Spyhouse Coffee on Broadway & Central, I made this picture in my journal while I was thinking about what I was going to wear to work. I worry about this because I feel like I have to look a certain way when I teach at the university. Like I have to look professorial, yet I don’t really know what that means. I just want to feel like me when I teach. But I can’t wear a t-shirt, jeans, and boots to class everyday. So I have to get creative with my clothes.
I was sitting along the windows overlookingBroadway Ave. as I wrote. A lady with really long hair to my right kept looking over at me without moving her neck. She kind of leaned sideways. I could see she worked at the U of M too by the logo on her screen. I thought to myself, “She probably wants to be drawing a picture instead of grading papers too.”
filling the creative well
Janna Krawczyk on Nov 1, 2017 in the art of balance, the art of creativity, the art of journaling, the art of the journal, the life of a writer |
A few days ago, I wrote myself a prescription for November. I wrote it because I need some creative medicine.
For the past few months, I have been running along the edge of an empty tank. My time is spliced between too many things, things that feed my soul and enrich my life, but that require a lot of physical, mental, emotional, and social energy. At the end of the day, I am left with little for myself. My kids get the last fumes, and that’s a wrap. Paul and I hang out, but since we are in the same boat, we are bogged down together.
By nature (and identity), I am a writer and a creator. But life has been so immersive, I have not been able to try new things with my writing. The last extensive project I engaged in was a full revision of my second novel. I finished that project in May, and haven’t written a word of fiction or posted a blog since.
And in the meantime, I grew comfortable. And fearful about sharing my writing.
I still write daily, filling blank pages with thoughts using thin-tipped markers. But I haven’t written anything for anyone outside of myself to see. And the longer I’ve been away, the more apprehensive I feel.
What am I going to write about? I wonder in a low-level writer’s despair. I have a million ideas, but when it comes right down to it, I don’t sit down and risk bringing them to light.
My creative energy is flat, and I’ve been banging my head, feeling a like a fraud teaching leadership when I’m out of balance in my own life.
A week or so ago, I figured it out: I’m hiding in my comfort zone, in the pages of my journal, where my thoughts are safe from judgement or scrutiny. But in the comfort zone, there is no risk, no growth, no innovation, and after a while, stagnation.
I’m a writer, after all. And part of being a writer is letting people read what you write.
So I wrote myself a prescription to push me out of my comfort zone to practice what I preach in class–to bravely and creatively express what is within.