Like any journey one takes in life, the path is riddled with highs and lows, challenges and triumphs. These opposing forces can really put you in a tailspin if you let them. But if you allow yourself to slow down long enough to read the signs, you might just learn something new about yourself along the way.
The first sign I saw along my journey came in the form of a creative pause. As a designer and artist, being in a state of “nothingness” does not sit well with me. While my creativity has to be on point every day, there’s no room for down time. But little did I know how much this creative pause would end up shaping the path I was on.
You see…I’ve become the kind of creative person who wraps my passion around everything I do. For the past 18 years as the Creative Director of Élan + Leaflet Publishing, I’ve shared all my creative energy and talent with my clients and their organizations, which I LOVE doing. But somewhere along the way, I got depleted. I’ve heard that can happen when you turn your passion into your career, but, of course, I never thought it would happen to me.
In an effort to get my creative “buzz” back, I gave myself the time and space to work on my own art. My art takes the form of detailed drawings inspired by nature. My favorite medium is charcoal pencils, which I apply to the pages of my journals that I design and create by hand.
After being away from my art for years, I was so excited to put pencil to paper and start drawing again. But I quickly realized I was struggling to find the inspiration and creative energy to begin. This inability to begin was frightening, with the blank pages of my journal staring back at me. This creative pause went on for months. I would sit for hours with my drawing journal and pencils, but nothing would come.
In an effort to find some clarity, I turned my focus to another one of my passions…yoga. There is something about my yoga mat and meditation cushion that puts my life back in balance. This re-centering doesn’t always happen as quickly as I’d like, but when it does, it reveals itself in the most amazing ways.
It actually took over a year of stillness and quiet contemplation, but it finally happened—I not only began to draw freely each day, but I had this burst of creative energy I just couldn’t ignore. I’ll never know for sure where this newfound creativity came from, but I believe the energetic shift of my sacral chakra (Swadhisthana) had something to do with it.
It was during one of my early morning drawing sessions that I started thinking about how my passion for art and design and my love of yoga brought me to this new creative place. Since I loved drawing in my journals, I started playing with the idea of creating a set of journals that allowed people the rare opportunity to de-mystify and study the chakras on a more personal level. Through the art of journaling—whether writing or sketching—one could capture their thoughts, observations, dreams, and desires on the blank pages, while exploring creative tools of empowerment for their daily life. It was then that the Chakra Journals were born.
In the fall of 2015, I began writing and designing the first prototype of the journals, starting with the root chakra. I do some of my best work when I’m alone working quietly in my art studio. This is my happy place…where I’m free to explore, be creative and a bit messy, which is BIG for me given I’m an A-type control freak (yes…Manipura, my solar plexus chakra, is a bit off balance). But in order to make these chakra journals extra special, I knew I needed to surround myself with other passionate people. So I asked my dear friend and fellow yoga teacher Kathy Clark if she would like to read my journal and then share her thoughts with me. She humbly said…YES! And yet, it was I who was humbled.
You see…Kath is one of those rare yoga teaches, you know the type—authentic, lives her yoga, compassionate with her students, and her breadth of yoga knowledge is astonishing. To this day, she inspires me to be a better yoga teacher.
I met with Kath one evening after she had read the root chakra journal. I was unsure how this critique would go, given that the journal was in the prototype stage, with more blank pages for journaling than written content. But I had invited Kath's critique and was both excited and a bit nervous for her feedback.
Kath said that she loved the design of the Chakra Journals, but then she asked me straight out, like only a true friend would…
“Tell me again, what do you want to accomplish with these Chakra Journals?”
I thought…Oh no, I should have worked more on the journal before sharing it with her. It wasn’t good enough. But then I remembered that this was Kath—I was safe and not being judged. So I explained…
“I want the Chakra Journals to be just that, a personal journal where you can capture your thoughts, observations, dreams, and desires on the blank pages, while exploring the chakras on a more personal level. But I don’t want the journals to be too structured or feel like a textbook. Along with some rich content, which I’m still working on, there needs to be lots of space for you to write or draw.”
“Oh…I understand,” she said.
And so our collaboration began. We started sharing ideas of what kind of content we wanted to include, as well as what unique design elements would bring ebb and flow to the journals. Without any outline or rules to follow, Kath and I spent the next few weeks writing and designing what was to become the root chakra journal.
Weeks later, I received Kath’s first draft of the root chakra content. It was so RICH! I could tell that this was “Kath's chakra,” the one that challenges her the most. I was so proud of Kath for putting herself out there. I knew that being candid and vulnerable as authors would not only make these journals more interesting to read, but would help them speak to and connect with readers.
Kath and I met weekly to share our thoughts about each journal and our feelings of how the collaboration was going. This time to regroup was important to both of us. Not only did it help us create richer content for each of the 7 Chakra Journals, it revealed how this collaboration was helping us work through our own chakra energies.
For me…I clearly unleashed the creative energy of Swadhisthana and got my “buzz” back. But the most amazing part of the collaboration was how organically the process came together. Normally I would plan everything out…create lists, strategize, organize, and then reorganize before diving into my design projects. I found that Kath’s easy-going nature inspired me to let go of the need to control it all and that my perfectionist blocks of Manipura softened. In the end, the journals came together in the most harmonious way, with us composing and sharing our thoughts and experiences with our own chakras.
Don’t get me wrong…this project wasn’t without its challenges. I wasn't able to spend much time with my husband Jim during the project. He was, and still is, very supportive of me and my work. But he worried about how hard I was working and my lack of sleep. For months on end, I worked 7 days a week. Each weekday, I would work with my clients and then once I was back in my studio, the world slipped away. My days would turn into late nights of writing and designing, powered by this surge of creative energy and LOTS of chocolate.
In six months, Kath and I authored, designed, proofed, re-wrote, re-designed, and published 7 Chakra Journals. It’s our hope that these Chakra Journals and our Chakra Journal Workshops will help those who choose this path of exploration an opportunity to live a healthy, creative, playful, compassionate, authentic, intuitive, and purposeful life.
These Chakra Journals are so much more than I could have ever imagined thanks to Kath’s thirst for knowledge and passion for life. I will be forever grateful for her energy, support, and encouraging words, but most of all…her friendship.
In closing, I’ll share with you a quote that continues to inspire me to follow my passion each and every day:
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” — Patanjali