I am excited to share the Authentic Refreshment story from the life of Quinn McDonald of QuinnCreative and author of Raw Art Journaling. She is an avid journal keeper and raw art creator and teacher. Quinn shares various subjects, with a focused genre of art and journal writing on her blog, one of my favorites, which has been shared repeatedly on #JournalChat Links Edition for all things journaling on Twitter. Quinn has taken the time to share the details of how her art and journal writing refresh her.
Quinn shares how she got started and what her Authentic Refreshment entails:
[My Authentic Refreshment] is a combination of thinking through journaling (writing), distilling the ideas, and then expressing the heart of the idea as collage, sketches or abstracts. I've been doing this in one form or another as long as I could hold a pencil, before I knew how to print or write. I made up imaginary "writing."
I was an extremely shy child with two much older brothers who were not very interested in playing with me. Because my parents were immigrants, we were "different." I didn't speak English well until I went to school and didn't have a lot of friends. We didn't have TV, so I found my friends and joys in books. I created stories for companionship, to communicate (only in my imagination, as no one read them), and to create places where I was accepted and understood. As an adult, that kind of writing is called, "fiction," and surprisingly, I am a non-fiction writer. None of my journals are fiction. My journals are filled with ideas, thoughts, commentary (generally on social justice) and sketches.
When I write in my journal, it's often stream of consciousness. I don't edit, I don't correct, I don't judge. Days or weeks after I've written in my journal, I will go back and re-read what I wrote. I'll often find a common theme or the development of an idea happening there. Sometimes it's an interesting phrase or a remarkably apt description. I pull those ideas and phrases out for use in my artwork, writing, or blogs. That's distilling. I will add that it's also a process I teach in my journaling classes.
Quinn talks about her time spent as well as her personal and public approach:
I have several journals--one for keeping track of phone calls, clients, deadlines, ideas. Another for deep writing. One is a Commonplace Book (quotes, ideas from books, wel-written sentences or headlines, titles of books I want to re-read). Another is a sketch journal. The distillation pieces are free-standing pages that are arranged by date, emotion, color, or any other order that seems useful. That's why they are done as free-standing pages.
Writing I do daily. Journaling [is] almost daily. Distilling and expressive arts vary--depending on my schedule--but [are] almost always weekly.
This intensely private work is my own. The resulting artwork is something I will share if it's appropriate--if it has a metaphorical value that others can interpret for themselves.
She speaks of her inner enjoyment and her unique process:
[My refreshment is] very natural. It's a way of working out problems, choosing ideas, brainstorming. I can't imagine being without my journals. I always thought what I did was "journaling" and it wasn't until I noticed other people using journal prompts that I realized my work was different.
Quinn shares her changes in perspective and surprising discoveries:
I often start out with one emotion and work toward another. Rainer Maria Rilke said, "No emotion is final." [Surprising discoveries are] part of the purpose--distilling a wide group of thoughts into something more focused.
Here is Quinn's detail of the validation dimension of her refreshment:
Deep writing is a way of untangling confusion, lightening sadness, understanding consternation. I often say that journaling allows you to both remember and forget. Remember details that make an event or idea special and forget the pain and fear that comes with living a life.
She shares how appreciation for her true self is one of her refreshment's benefits:
Writers and artists are often outside the mainstream. Probably because they welcome change and think of risk as safe and safety as risky. In my journal, I can work out emotions that make me feel more connected to a larger portion of a community.
Quinn offers the refreshing nourishment for her soul:
Journaling helps me grow as a human being and spiritual being. That's nourishing, indeed.
She shares the focused and overall benefits of her refreshment:
[The greatest benefit] is keeping me sane, at the worst of times. Helping me through difficult times, providing comfort in lonely times and helping me find gratitude and joy again. My journal allows me to feel heard. I anticipate the activity, and feel satisfied after writing.
Quinn talks about how her refreshment aids in life purpose clarity:
The purpose in life can shift or seem new or different. Following the lead is important. I have had several different careers, everything from being an editor at a newspaper to running the Creative Programs department in a huge corporation, to being a financial writer for a large financial investment company. Leaving the corporate world to open my own business--and a creativity coaching business at that--was another life change. I've also lived in several areas of the country, been a single mother for many years, been a wife, the financial support of a family--a lot of different careers, rolled into one. A big requirement for doing several things at once is setting priorities. Keeping a journal helps me discover what is important to me, not just what's urgent to do.
Quinn shares the quality of personal empowerment her refreshment provides:
I've gained strength from writing, clarity, to stay with difficult emotions. I've learned to let go as well.
When asked what her favorite part of her refreshment was, Quinn replied with this comment:
Well, that's sort of like asking, "What's the best part of eating--chewing or swallowing?" It's all part of a whole pleasurable experience.
Here is Quinn's Word of Encouragment for those seeking out their Authentic Refreshment:
Don't give up. Keep trying different methods, at different times. Don't quit too soon. Listen to your heart, it will guide you.
Quinn McDonald wanted to be an obedient, dutiful wife and patient mother, but she was born at the wrong time. She became a writer—in ad agencies, in corporations, at a newspaper. Traveled all over the world. Took notes. There was always that restlessness, that raised eyebrow that wouldn’t behave. Then one day, during a performance review, her boss said, "You are different, and seem to enjoy it.” It was not a compliment. The clock on Quinn’s job security ticked to an end. From that day on, Quinn listened to her intuition, quit looking for meaning in life and began making meaning. She is a Certified Creativity Coach, writer, art journaler, workshop leader and rides her motorcycle in the amazing landscape of the Sonoran desert.