Year in Review – Prompt #5 Kind gestures

Sometimes we are encouraged to dive into a vision for the new year without processing the year that has been. Have you ever experienced that?
As an art therapist and coach I know that feeling, accepting and integrating our feelings, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is an important part of good health, and an important part of feeling authentically energised for the future.
Through the last two months of 2018 each week I’ll be sharing some end of year reflection and journaling prompts I have developed to help you integrate the experiences of this year and finish up feeling clearer and more accepting of yourself and the year that was, more focused on what you care deeply about, and more energised for the New Year.
Here is this week’s Year in Review prompt….
—–

Kind gestures

If you’d like to join me again this week reflecting on the year we have had, take some time to reflect on kind gestures that stood out for you this year. I designed this week’s exercise with the idea of overcoming negativity bias (the way our minds can focus on the things that went wrong rather than the things that went right), and as a way to gently reconnect with feelings of gratitude and connection to others.

Q. What were the times this year that someone made a kind gesture to you that you really appreciated? Look for the warm glow around the memory that tells you that it was special and you felt lucky to receive their kindness.

For each one you can remember receiving, pause for a moment and write a few sentences capturing what the gesture was, who did it, how it made you feel, and why it was especially meaningful for you at that time. See if you can describe the moment in some detail, it may help with remembering the feelings that went with it.

See if you can come up with 10. This might mean you have to dig around a bit to remember them, or it might come easily.

  • Did someone unexpectedly buy you a coffee?
  • Did someone make you dinner?
  • Did someone give you honest feedback from a place of love?
  • Did someone lend you an outfit for a big night?
  • Did someone help you move house?
  • Did someone send a heartfelt message at a tough time?
  • Did someone listen when you really needed it?
  • Did someone include you or invite you somewhere?
  • Did someone forgive you?
  • Did someone give you kind words about something you did?
  • Did someone go with you when you had something hard to do?
  • Did someone share some of their optimism and encouragement with you?
  • Did someone show patience and loyalty?
  • Did someone surprise you with a kind gesture big or small?

The kind gestures really can be big or small! Please try not to judge yourself or the memories you come up with. Nothing is ‘too small’ or ‘silly’ for the purposes of this reflection. This is an exercise in honouring our emotional landscape and the things that matter to us, even if they don’t make sense to our rational minds. Even if they might not have ‘meant much’ to someone else, they meant something to you and that is important.
Once you’ve remembered and described the 10 acts of kindness, see what you can observe about the values that are important to you, the people who are important to you, or even what you might feel inspired to do more for others going forward.

If you’d like to share one of the moments that sticks in your mind with us feel free to do so in comment below (perhaps keeping the other people’s identity’s private, eg ‘a good friend said….’, ‘a stranger at the supermarket did…’, ‘a person at work offered to…’).

How does it make you feel to remember these kind gestures?

What does it make you think about?


If you would like to work on your vision for 2019 and start to implement a project close to your heart please get in touch. I am available for coaching and my rates are listed on the coaching link above.

Year in Review – Prompt #4 Giving

Sometimes we are encouraged to dive into a vision for the new year without processing the year that has been. Have you ever experienced that?
As an art therapist and coach I know that feeling, accepting and integrating our feelings, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is an important part of good health, and an important part of feeling authentically energised for the future.
Through the last two months of 2018 each week I’ll be sharing some end of year reflection and journaling prompts I have developed to help you integrate the experiences of this year and finish up feeling clearer and more accepting of yourself and the year that was, more focused on what you care deeply about, and more energised for the New Year.

Here is this week’s Year in Review prompt….
—–
Giving
Around this time of year lots of people exchange gifts. Gift giving traditions can be fraught and tied up with issues with overconsumption, debt and more. But they are also deeply connected to reciprocity, social ties and acts of care.
Lets think gently and with curiosity about the act of giving. Grab a journal and a cup of tea and explore this one with me.
Journaling and reflection prompts (spend 5 minutes on each):
Beyond formal gift giving, what did you give this year with no expectation of payment or return?
What time did you donate to someone’s project or cause?
What random gifts did you give to those you love?
What funds did you give to charity?
What objects did you give freely to new homes?
Which of your gifts and talents did you share with others?
What small acts of kindness did you try to foster through the year?
Now looking across your answers above, spend 15 minutes with these questions:
What feelings arose in relation to giving this year? What themes can you see?
What was easy to give?
What was harder to give?
What felt great to give?
What would you like to give more of next year?
And if something comes to mind that you’d like to share in comments below feel free to do so!

 

PS If you live in Australia a great giving opportunity this time of year is Share the Dignity‘s “It’s in the Bag” campaign. It’s easy – simply find a handbag in good condition that you are no longer using and fill it with toiletries and personal care items such as deodorant, face wash, pads and tampons, a toothbrush and toothpaste. Include a brief affirming note or Christmas card, and then drop off at a Bunnings store before or on Sunday the 2nd December.

Year in Review – Prompt #3 Self-care

Let’s review the year that was and celebrate what we did!
Sometimes we are encouraged to dive into a vision for the new year without processing the year that has been. Have you ever experienced that?
As an art therapist and coach I know that feeling, accepting and integrating our feelings, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is an important part of good health, and an important part of feeling authentically energised for the future.
Through the last two months of 2018 each week I’ll be sharing some end of year reflection and journaling prompts I have developed to help you integrate the experiences of this year and finish up feeling clearer and more accepting of yourself and the year that was, more focused on what you care deeply about, and more energised for the New Year.
Here is this week’s Year in Review prompt….
—–
Self-care

This week let’s celebrate self-care. Grab a blank journal and a cup of tea or glass of water and get started. the whole process will take 30-60 minutes depending on how fast you write.
Consider your ‘MEEPS’. What are MEEPS?
They are the:
MENTAL
EMOTIONAL
ENVIRONMENTAL
PHYSICAL
SOCIAL
factors that help you keep healthy and well.
M – How you cared for your mind
What did you read or listen to or discuss that stimulated your mind? What ideas really excited you this year? What topics did you learn more about? What healthy new thought patterns did you cultivate?
E – How you cared for your emotions
What difficult emotions did you make room for and feel? What emotions did you notice having more or less of this year? What emotions were hard to feel or express? Which ones were easy? What emotional support did you give yourself? How did you nurture yourself when you had strong emotions that were hard to handle?
E – How you cared for your environment
What changes did you make in your workplace or home? What new or familiar places did you go to because they feel good? What did you do to make your home feel more organised, light, welcoming or fun? What caring actions did you take for our planet, the broader environment, or community?
P – How you cared for your body
What did you do to care for your physical body this year? What small or big acts of prevention, repair or kindness did you do for your body? What healthy habits did you establish or continue? What small gestures brought pleasure, ease or comfort?
S – How you cared for your social connections
What social contact did you make this year to give yourself support, inspiration and connection? What people in your life contributed to your sense of wellbeing? What kids of social activities felt especially nourishing?
Pause, breathe and celebrate all these things and more that you’ve done for your wellbeing this year.
#selfcare #yearinreview #reflections #newyear

Year in Review – Prompt #2 Peaks and troughs

Sometimes we are encouraged to dive into a vision for the new year without processing the year that has been. Have you ever experienced that?
As an art therapist and coach I know that feeling, accepting and integrating our feelings, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is an important part of good health, and an important part of feeling authentically energised for the future.
Through the last two months of 2018 each week I’ll be sharing some end of year reflection and journaling prompts I have developed to help you integrate the experiences of this year and finish up feeling clearer and more accepting of yourself and the year that was.
Here is the second Year in Review prompt….
—–
Peaks and troughs
Take an hour and some pen and paper (or laptop and coffee) and consider the following prompts:
– What were the highlights of this year in terms of events or peak experiences? The things that felt most fun, energising, connecting, satisfying etc. Take 10 minutes and and make this a list or write a few sentences about each if you like.
– What were the hardest moments of this year in terms of events or experiences? The things that felt sad, disappointing, frustrating etc. Take 10 minutes and and make this a list or write a few sentences about each if you like.
Try to give each of these lists the same amount of time, use a timer if you like.
Take a few deep breaths and sit with any feelings that arise, knowing that whatever you have experienced you have made it through to the here and now, showing strength, flexibility and perseverance. Reread the highlights list before you move on to the next part.
Now take 10 minutes for each of these questions:
1. Looking at these two lists, what do they tell you about what you care about; that is what you hold dear, what is important to you, what you value?
2. Looking at these two lists, what do they tell you about your strengths and resources as a person? What personal qualities, support networks and resources helped you navigate all these experiences?
2. Based on that information, what are some things you would like to include in your life next year? What strengths and resources will you draw on to make that happen?
—–
That’s it!
Enjoy.
And remember to be kind to yourself as you reflect and write – accept and be kind to yourself about whatever you experienced, whatever you did or didn’t do, whatever you felt, whatever you were drawn to.

Reader question: help! I can’t slow down.

Q. I run my own business and find I just always want to be working on it. Even when I stop and try to spend time with my family I have ideas and think ‘I could be doing just one more thing’. It’s like in addicted to productivity and can’t stop. It probably doesn’t help that I have a few businesses on the go and true is a lot to do. Have you ever experienced this? What do you do?

 

A. One thing I learnt about a few years ago as part of my art therapy studies that I hadn’t realised before is that the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response activated) doesn’t turn itself off automatically. There are lots of things that trigger it to fire up (eg. Sitting at a computer raises cortisol levels over time, rushing around, stories about what we find stressful, sense of urgency etc), and so unless we actively do things to ‘swap over’ to our parasympathetic nervous system (rest and recover) it just stays switched on!

Combine that with the feel good hit we get when we tick tasks off the list and the sense of virtue from being productive, ‘getting ahead’ etc and it’s easy to understand why working on our biz can be very alluring and hard to stop indeed! Slowing down can feel boring at first, while we are still ‘wired’. To help to move into the rest state, try a progressive muscle relaxation (squeeze and release all your muscles down the body), a hot shower, a slow -eyes wide open looking around as you walk – walk around the block, or something that focuses the mind on the here and now but feels calming (maybe do something with your hands). Stretching, yawning, releasing through tapping or journalling, these are all great too. This will help the stress hormones lower and it will be easier then to change pace.
Longer term you might find it helpful to look at your stories too (this is not always easy or comfortable and can be usefully explored with a counsellor, therapist, coach or healer). Put on your detective hat and see what stories are underneath your actions. Do you believe that down time is wasted time? Are you telling yourself that you can’t afford down time until you hit X income target? Maybe you think resting is lazy and morally bad, and that someone will come and tell you off if you stop working. Maybe you feel like you’re not a good person and only by staying active you prove you are ok and loveable. Or maybe you’re terrified the business will ‘fail’ and you’ll have to go back to that cleaning/ office/ executive /whatever job you don’t want to do anymore. And so when you stop working the ‘bad feelings’ come, and the quickest way you know to avoid them is to keep working.

Sometimes deep under those ‘bad feelings’ is pain. That pain needs to be heard and felt and honoured. That clears the decks ready for us to have a bit more choice and voice in making our own decisions.

Can you introduce some new stories about self care, quiet time, being present for your family etc? Eg ‘rest is when I recharge’, ‘I deserve time to rest and play’, ‘self care is at the heart of my life’, or ‘slow is when my ideas grow’? Play with something that works for you.

Journaling tool – the ‘Thank you and yah me!’ list

You may have heard of the idea of keeping a gratitude journal. I have tweaked the format and finally found a style that works for me. It focuses not only on the external things that you feel thankful for and appreciative of, but also the things you did that you are proud of and happy about. It doesn’t require filling in every day, and you don’t have to think up a set number of things.

A bit like the concept of yin and yang, this version of the gratitude journal allows space for being grateful for the active and the passive – things that happen to us and the things we made happen. It can be particularly powerful if you tend to focus on your shortcomings rather than celebrating the wins, or you struggle with feeling powerful. It reorients you to celebrating the small and kind or brave things that you did as well as noticing the abundance and good fortune in your life.

For example:

Wins this week:

       I’m really pleased that I called Susan back even though it was a hard call to make

       Proud of myself for sticking to my plan for writing my book

       I was super patient with the kids even though I was tired

       Self-care – went for a massage! Yah me!

 

Grateful for this week:

       This beautiful sunny weather and an afternoon spent in the park

       The gift that arrived in the mail from Aunty Dorris – she is so sweet to always remember our birthday’s

        Clean water – that documentary about those kids made me feel really sad and made me realize how much I take for granted

       That woman who gave me her seat on the bus when I had all the shopping bags to carry

 

Practical tips:

·      Try to focus just on those things that come up with clear feelings attached to them – don’t let your mind make a lit of everything you ‘should’ feel grateful for

·      I do it in a small journal dedicated to just this, and use the LHS for ‘wins’ and the RHS for ‘grateful for’.

·      I use a double page spread each week and just jot things into it when I get a moment, or am moved to.

·      I keep it in my everyday handbag

·      Those spare moments before your drink arrives at a café, when you’re early to a seated event, or while you’re waiting for a friend to join you – fish out the gratitude journal and fill it out rather than reading social media. Take a few breaths before you start writing and cast your mind back over the day or week.  

·      New week = new double page spread

·      Weeks with very short lists will remind you to reorient yourself towards filling it out more often.

 

Over time it subtly shifts focus towards recognizing the supportive elements in the world that helped you do what you set out to do, and the inner attributes that also contribute to your good fortune.

 

Good for: increasing a sense of abundance, building self-confidence and overall appreciation


If you would like more tips for journaling please download my free e-book ’25 fresh ways to get your thoughts and feelings on paper’. Click on the image below to access.

Untitled design

 

Art journaling: how can it help?

“Visual journaling is a creative way to express and record life’s experiences, feelings, emotional reactions, or our inner world – visually and verbally. Essentially, visual journaling can become a potential key to the artmaking process.” – Michael Bell

Visual or art journaling is the process of using words and pictures to explore our creativity and process things from life, in a sketchbook or diary, over time.

But why do it? How does to help?

Speaking from my own experience and from the experiences described by others in art networks I’m involved with, it can be a powerful and pleasurable way to process feelings and explore what is meaningful in our lives. It is a practical tool we can take with us (in the car, in a handbag, on holidays) and access when we need it. Having our hands actively involved can help shift our focus from those thoughts that go around and around in our heads, and instead by getting involved in the creative process we come up with new ways of seeing things.

Visual journaling can help us focus, calm us down, and create a relaxation response in our bodies. This, along with the curiosity and joy that can come from a creative practice gives enormous benefits to our wellbeing. Visual journaling is also a safe place where we can express and explore our emotions – through colour, symbol and words – getting them out so they no longer weigh us down.

“Visual journals are essentially “art diaries.” They often contain both images [usually drawings] and words… And like an actual diary, they are meant to document day-to-day experiences, activities, and emotions and are often autobiographical in nature. Although they are defined as an art form, visual journals have been used for centuries as records of ideas and imagination. Da Vinci’s drawing journals of flying machines and physicist Stephen Hawking’s diagrams of the space-time continuum are just a couple of well-known examples.” – Cathy Malchiodi

When we approach our art making mindfully there is an opportunity for wisdom to emerge from deep inside ourselves and for us to discover personal meaning. We slow down and in our journaling we might ‘work through’ the layers of feeling in a conflict, until at the end of our image making we feel more peaceful and calm than we did to begin with. Our images provide a record for us of this transformation.

Over time using visual/art journaling we may start to develop a personal visual language – we may find we are attracted to certain colours, textures, shapes, symbols or types of art materials, and that these express how we are feeling, or how we see the world. As each person is unique, so will each person’s visual language be unique as well.

One of the final benefits I have noticed is that because visual journaling is often a mixed-media process that involves a lot of experimentation, it can help create in us a more open mind about trying new things in our lives generally, and confidence about trying new approaches. We begin to learn that a striking image is built layer by layer, with experimentation. One layer we don’t like much, or an unexpected addition to the image is not the end of the world. We grow our faith and patience, trusting our own quiet inner aesthetic tuning fork, and keep working it until we are satisfied it is done.

FURTHER RESOURCES

Womensgroupimage

 

 

If you would like some support in developing a regular creative practice you might like my next 6 week Women’s Creative Wellbeing group beginning on the 2nd September and an evening group on the 7th September 2016, face to face mode in Sydney Australia.

 

Untitled design

 

If journaling is something you’d like to try but haven’t, you might like to check out my free downloadable guide to journaling – 25 easy ideas for expressing yourself and making sense of things on paper using words and pictures.

 

 

Jadephoto

 

About the author:

Jade runs a variety of creative workshops and offers individuals art therapy or coaching, both face to face and remotely. Her work integrates the principles of client centered counseling and group facilitation with art therapy and her own experience of creative practice. Coaching can help with getting started on a creative practice or project, balancing work and creative practice, or developing self care while working towards making a difference in the world. Contact Jade here to find out more about sessions or packages.