Category Archives: creativity

My Journal Journey!

What is a journal? How personal do we make our entries? Do we write them with restriction in case it is ever found or specifically to be read by an outsider, or do we write our completely inner most thoughts unabashed, for our own eyes only? Do we use it to simply vent, or for record, are they for re-reading, assessing, future help or are they simply an outlet? Should we keep separate journals for separate parts of our lives? One for personal matters, feelings, thoughts and one for goals, accomplishments, wishes and wants? Are they a record of facts, experiences and advice or a mish mash of personal jibber jabber?

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I think its safe to say a journal can be any number of things and can be incredibly insightful, eye opening, and rewarding to the creator and also sometimes to others, depending on the type.

Personally my journal is a very personal thing, only I see it and IF I ever chose to allow anyone else to read it, they will be a very special person to me indeed. My journal is kind of like my friend, my confident, but it doesn’t judge or give false information, it doesn’t give misguided advice or try to warp my mumblings into coherency…It simply accepts.

When I was young I used to write a diary, much like a journal but to me my diary was all about my crazy thoughts, my emotions and turmoil, my trials, releasing the tension…when I read them back they are a desperate expression of everything I couldn’t say, or even make sense of. But there was no development, I was using it as an outlet but nothing more.

Now things have changed, for me a journal is more about a journey than just expression. Its a way of expressing but also of recording, of making sense, planning, improving oneself and I have to say it has been monumental in helping me through what has turned out to be probably the worst year of my life to date.

It really helps me to process my thoughts and feelings, but I refuse to scribble page and pages of nonsensical words, as I sit down to write I find a quiet place and time, I think….I process the things I itch to record, put the ramblings in order and write relatively concisely and with real meaning. Sometimes, the things I wanted to write, the negative or mixed up feelings often find themselves resolved before pen hits paper. I might mention them in a single sentence to record the fact it was there, I felt it but I can deal with it.

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I also use this writing time to make sure I am grateful. Every day I write ‘thankful for’ and aim to list 3 things I am grateful for that day, anything from my health, abilities, specific people, opportunities, experiences or sometimes even just for a TV show I am enjoying, or that wine which helped me relax and feel better. There have been one or two days in the last 6 months where I have been unable to complete this, on my lowest of the low yet even on these days, even writing the title, ‘thankful for’ I know there are things, I know that I am just having trouble pinpointing them at that moment in time, I know I write them every day and have many thing but my mindset is just clouding them.

There are another two sections I do every day to ensure I am looking forwards to positive things and to ensure I am chasing those things. I do ‘wishes/wants’ and ‘goals’. Under wishes and wants I write anything, this could be big things like getting a nice house, having a great relationship or winning the lottery or it could be smaller or more personal things like mental clarity, or happiness.
Under goals I choose things often relating to my wants. Most are small steps I can take towards what I want over the next day or so: start playing the lottery, do certain activities I enjoy to make sure I feel happier, put aside thinking time on specific topics or research them to gain clarity, reach out to a certain person, or give them space, remind myself what I need to do to help the situations go in my favour.

And every day I look back on the previous day to see what I accomplished. I don’t reprimand myself for anything not done, this isn’t a race, its not a competition, its not work. As long as I am moving in the right direction and bearing my goals, wants and things I’m thankful in mind, then I am winning.

I also use my journal for several other useful things.
Firstly for recording my training, so quick notes on workouts, weight, reps and how it felt, just writing it before I do the workout means I can’t just procrastinate and not do it…it is written in pen, it is recorded and so I must do it, I will NOT have to record my failure to do this, it is the one time I am strict with my journal content and entries.
Secondly I use the back of the book for notes, notes to help me. There are lists of my good and bad points, things to work on. I have a 3 year plan, and steps to achieve larger goals. There are some yoga routines, body-brushing information, workout plans, supplement information, notes of names and websites I may find useful and ideas to look into at later dates when I have time.

Overall this relatively small notebook is an incredibly valuable asset, helping me in a number of ways on a daily basis. I would highly recommend people giving it a go.
You don’t need to write the same types of things I do, make it personal, adapt it to help you be the most positive and productive person you can be, it is definitely worth spending 10 minutes a day doing!

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Filed under adventure, beliefs, change, creativity, development, life, writing

Creativeness and Mental Illness…I wanted to talk about relief via art but found other connections….

So I wanted to write about my craving for creativity and how it has always helped me when I’m feeling negative, I started researching and ended up on a much more interesting route:

Creative people are statistically more inclined to have mood disorders and mental Illness.

So essentially, rather than creativeness being an amazing antidepressant and everyone should do it..its more the case that the very mental disorders we are fighting are a bi-product of our creative minds. The characteristics that give us the power to find relief via creating are the same characteristics which contribute to the negativity in the first place.

There is debate on whether these traits are nature or nurture and there is evidence to back up both.

Psychiatrist, Keri Szaboles working in Hungary made an interesting discovery, he gave 128 participants a creativity test followed by a blood test sand found that those demonstrating the greatest creativity carried a gene commonly associated with severe mental illness.

There have been studies In Sweden, directed by Simon Kyaga, where they have discovered that those in creative professions were more likely to have relatives with mental disorders and were statistically more inclined to suffer mental illness themselves, for instance it appeared that writers in particular were 121% more likely to suffer than those in other non creative fields, and 50% more likely to commit suicide.
Now that’s a staggering difference!

They also stated that some people inherit a form of the trait that fosters creativity without burden whereas others inherit an amped up version that stoked anxiety, depression and even hallucinations.

There has been discussion as to whether this is from physical or psychological influence. For instance is it the physical DNA or just the fact that families experiencing mental illness are less stable, therefore creating a less stable environment which therefore nurtures certain characteristics encouraging mental illness, Or certainly worsening it.

But this is beside the point, my interest here is to discover the actual link between creativity and depression. What are those characteristics which contribute to both?

Its suggested that creatives experiencing mood disorders and mental illness take in more information and are less able to ignore extraneous details, their brain does not allow them to filter.

American psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman stated: “It seems that the key to creative cognition is opening up the flood gates and letting in as much information as possible,” he writes. “Because you never know: sometimes the most bizarre associations can turn into the most productively creative ideas.”

So basically our inability to shut out certain information and feeling can mean that we are overcome with emotion, which can be both incredibly tormenting for the brain, yet that same information and feeling can be what stokes up to create, with so much going on inside is it any wonder we have to release it, let it out and share it in such, often spectacular ways?

Painter of ‘the scream;’,Edvard Munch suffered fro anxiety which he poured out through his work, he write about this particular piece “The sun began to set – suddenly the sky turned blood red,” he wrote. “I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an endless scream passing through nature.”

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If you look into the personal life of all the old creatives you will almost certainly discover similar issues and right up to modern day, take Robin Williams for example…everywhere we look to be inspired, the people who produce the most incredible ‘art’ in whatever form are those who suffer the most.

So I am here to be thankful for my dark times, for without them I wouldn’t be who I am today, I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog, I wouldn’t have a multitude of skills and abilities, of which I am proud. I have produced artwork in many forms and its greatly appreciated by those to whom I give it to, and those who see my work, or indeed read my work often feel the need to let me know how it has affected them(generally on fb, not like they have to because were face to face). Its pleasing to know I can inspire some thought or feeling in others and therefore I am grateful I am made this way.

In fact if it weren’t for this side of my personality I probably wouldn’t be a fitness instructor either, after all teaching in front of a class of people, using your vibrancy, your excessive energies to inspire, motivate and encourage them to put in their best…is this not performance and is performance not a form of art.

I would be a completely different person living a completely different life! Its quite humbling to look at it this way, all this moaning about feeling down, and poor old Kirst, when all along its what’s forced me into some of my most proud accomplishments.

That all being said, I must say I am not belittling the depression and disorders some people feel, for me its just an occasional thing, nothing severe or lasting so I have the right balance, I get enough darkness to inspire me but not so much to really bring me down. I am one of the lucky ones and I send much love and support to those with more severe forms of mental illness.

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Filed under art, artists, arts, battle, creativity, darkness, depression, disorders, mental illness