JOURNALING THROUGH COLLAGE: A Healing With The Arts Project

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The following is my final project for the course, Healing With The Arts, through Coursera, in conjunction with the University Of Florida. 

In our current world, so much of our content is now found on electronic devices. Very rarely can one be found reading a “real” book, or the newspaper, or thumbing thru a magazine. Many can now be found with an electronic device attached to one hand so much so that it is as if it has become an extension of that hand, eyes diverted looking only at the screen with an occasional head lift to take a look at their surroundings. It’s a sad state that many have found themselves lost in. What was supposed to make our lives “better,” I believe has made the state of our lives sadder, worse, lonelier. We interact more with others via text message, rather than by voice. Rarely do people write any more as handwriting is no longer taken seriously in schools.

I sit and ponder the state of our society, of our world. So many individuals are “lost” and feel disconnected. With the increased use of electronics, I wonder how many individuals are walking around with untapped potential, untapped creativity? When I asked a few of my friends, colleagues, and even a few patients how they were releasing their creativity, I wasn’t surprised to hear many of them reply, “What are you talking about? I barely have time to cook, let alone eat, and you’re asking me what I’m doing to be creative? Seriously?” I was serious when I asked them the question, and when I replied that they appeared to have time to scroll through their FaceBook or InstaGram feeds, that they had time to Tweet on Twitter for hours – HOURS – but no time to pen their thoughts down in a journal, or to do the things they once loved because their electronics had taken over the precious hours of their day, they had no response except to look at me dumbfounded.

I cannot say that I have not fallen prey to my own electronics. I will be honest and tell you that I have found that hours have passed as I mindlessly scrolled through meaningless FaceBook posts. As an Emergency Room Nurse, I have noticed an increase in the number of patients who come into the ER complaining of anxiety and depression. Many cannot pinpoint the cause of their anxiety, most times it’s generally, “I just don’t know. I just don’t feel right. I don’t feel like myself.” I can relate, and I know that the cause of my own anxiety, although not as severe as my patients, was related to the fact that I wasn’t doing much creatively. There was a time where I journaled feverently. I remember the feeling of writing and being able to purge on paper, and ultimately finding the answers to my “big” questions as I wrote.

Over the last year, I was fortunate enough to see where my life was lacking. Where I was sporadically journaling, I began to make an effort to journal at least three times a week, or more when I felt it was needed. I enrolled myself in an art class where I found that where I once felt inept and would have never considered myself an “artist,” I was actually flourishing. It was through this untapped and unused creativity that I found my anxiety lessened and eventually disappeared. I began painting more, journaling more, and looking for other creative outlets.

I have always been a person who loves words. I love books and I love writing.  I’m one of those people who feels that written words speak to me. I feel at times that they are hidden messages that come to me in my time of need. For years, I collected quotes or sayings, cutting out of magazines words that spoke to me. I never really did much with my clippings except tucking them in my journal or saving them first in an envelope, then in a box. Then I began taping them to the pages of my journal and what eventually transpired for me was a journal that told my own stories. Seeing the words made them come alive in my head. What began as just me looking for a way to save the words that I found to keep them from becoming lost or destroyed, became a journal filled with words that told stories.

I chose this project for my final because I believe that we all have a story to tell, but at times can’t find the words to tell it. I believe that when we can sit and become mindless, thumbing through old magazines, cutting with scissors, and using glue and construction paper that it can transport us to a time when we were once children. I believe that we can remember what it felt like to have no worries, laughing with our friends, and feel carefree. I believe that it is in this time that the messages that we need to see will appear. I know that there are no accidents, that the things we need to see or hear, or that need to happen will appear when we are ready and when we need them to appear. I believe that the words and pictures when placed on the construction paper or on the journal will let you see what you need to see.

For my final project, I present to you my journal. The journal that I have kept with the words and pictures that speak to me, that tell stories. It only matters to me what they mean or say. I am the only one that can put meaning to the messages because what others may see will not necessarily be what they see. My journal was put together without my inner critic whispering in my ear. It was an effort to not feel as if I were going to be judged as this is a huge fear for me. It was put together without me thinking about what others may think of my work. I know that if I put it together thinking of what others may think that it would not be what is. I believe that my journal is my authentic, higher-self speaking to me letting me know that I’m okay. Besides, I believe that journals are personal and are not truly meant for public viewing.

Journaling can be cathartic. I find that being able to purge what lies within me allows me more space for more creativity and positivity to seep into and penetrate in the spaces of what was previously emptied. Journaling, written or via collage, has changed me in ways that I feel has allowed me to grow enormously, and I believe that if it can do this for me, I can only imagine what it could do for our world as a collective. It would require the one journaling to give up the use of their electronic devices, for one, to free up their hands to use scissors or a pen, and to free up that part of their mind that craves the use of creativity. I believe that this form of journaling an excellent tool for growth and transformation as it allows for purging what plagues one’s mind, for visioning for the future, for dream building, and for spirit to speak when one is looking for answers to the questions that their soul asks.

To do this exercise, it it not necessary that one spend much money. Requirements:

  •  Plain, unlined journal of any size – preferably a 5×8″ or larger.
  • Old magazines.
  • Scissors, Glue. Tape.
  • Imagination.

There are NO rules when it comes to journaling via collage. Some individuals will find that by setting an intention prior to starting, that they are able to gain clarity on an issue troubling them, or a question that they have been asking. This is not necessary.  Many times what emerges is a what the one needs to see or hear at the time. It can provide clarity. Other times, one can use this form of journaling to dream build or vision build. It has been said that when you hold the vision by constantly bringing it into the forefront of your thoughts, that you can make it come true. Other times, you just need to purge your thoughts and you’ll find that once you are able to get what’s eating you on the inside, out, that you’ll feel much relieved, you’ll find a sense of calm and peace. What you may want to do with that piece that allowed you to purge is to take it outside and release it into the Universe by burning it and letting it go.

From the old magazines, cut out any words or pictures that appeal to you. You may find that many words and pictures appeal to you and that’s okay. If you find that there are many objects, you may want to consider using a poster board for your project.

Taking the objects that you cut out, place them in any order or manner that you wish onto your journal, or poster board. You can place them in any place that you choose, again there are no rules. Place them in a manner that is visually appealing to YOU.

The following photographs are actual photographs of my own collage journal.

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Simple, plain unlined journal.
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Vision board!
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