Sunday, October 30, 2016

#149 - 156 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - Cultivating Your Dopamine

 "Don't Give Up"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

One thing that makes me a happy artist is discovering that most of my happiest moments have to do with something internal.  Even if I'm delighted with something external like the beauty of the day, it's my attention to that something, that makes me feel happy.  It's the whole brain chemistry activity that is really the source of joy.  That is a freeing observation, that the source of my happiness is right here in my own experience of my life.

Obviously cultivating our positive brain chemistry and hormones can help cultivate our happy artists lives, and reading about simple and cheap ways to do this can be reassuring.  And realizing that we already do a lot to help our dopamine levels is really nice.

I was reading a blog post about 8 great ways to increase our dopamine without drugs, and I realized some of them are embedded in my Morning Pages daily art practice.
Here are  Stephan Gardner's 8 ways to boost our dopamine:

1.  His first one is to stay away from the instant gratification of addictive behaviors. Although this seems fairly obvious, it does seem that many normal behaviors can easily become addictive when we ask them to keep us in a pleasurable state.  And of course addictions actually deplete us of our happy brain chemistry.  Stephan suggests we look for ways to create meaning and inspiration in our lives, to counter the pull of instant gratification and addictions.  For me, that would be my daily art practice.

2. Create check lists of tasks that you can complete and then with great satisfaction, tick of your list.   He suggests tasks that are tied to our highest values are then doubly rewarding.  So guess what, this is actually a check list of cool, simple things to do to make us happy, AND I am checking to see which ones I am already doing, AND I feel pretty happy about the results.

3. Create something.  Well sure, that's a very easy one to do if you have a daily art practice. 

4. Exercise!  It helps relieve stress, achieve better physical health, makes us more productive and of course it boosts our dopamine levels. 

5. Stephen says we should get a streak going.  He describes a streak is a visual reminder of how many days in a row you’ve achieved something.  So create something every day and post it on FaceBook or Instagram, or blog about it.  Then you have your visual reminder of your daily achievement.  So easy!

6. He recommends foods which increase tyrosine, one of the most important chemicals that make up dopamine.  Here are a few foods that increase tyrosine: Almonds, Avocados, Bananas, Beef, Chicken, Chocolate, Coffee, Eggs, Green Tea, Watermelon, Yogurt.  So a little cafe mocha in the morning with my morning pages can get things flowing in the right direction.

7. Listen to music.   Research shows that listening to music increases dopamine levels much like eating our favorite comfort foods or watching some favorite TV series.  Of course adding music to a daily art practice could not be easier!

8. Meditate.  Research on the effects of meditation is a huge field now.  It's found to be a highly effective form of dopamine increase.  (Of course the sages and yogis have known this for thousands of years)  Meditation clears the mind of worries and clutter, and replaces that with a sense of presence and joy at being alive. This is a state of mind that is available for all of us.  It is within our reach.

Try some of the things on this list, see if you can boost your dopamine.


Saturday, October 29, 2016

#148 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - Recall Fifty Wonderful, Happy Memories

"Happy Memories"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

 

The thing about art is that it really can make all the difference between struggling to exist and creating a life filled with wonder and joy.  I particularly noticed this lately, as I struggled with the loss of yet another beautiful Bergamasco.  I found that by incorporating my two furry beloveds into my daily art practice, by creating fun environments for them, I was able to smile.  

The one here, "Recall Fifty Wonderful, Happy Memories" really made me smile, because once I got started thinking about the sweetest moments, it seemed more like thousands of happy memories.  As I played with the image, it became very clear that our lives are in constant flux.  One memory can be heartbreaking and the next 10 can lift our spirits.  We don't have to have perfect moments right now to be happy artists, we just need to create the possibility for good things to happen in our art work and in our lives.  So I get up early, feed the puppy and cat, doing some yoga and art before breakfast and see what the day brings.  Life really has its sorrows and difficult times.   For me, art isn't about plastering over the bad stuff.  It's more like using art to build up my strengths and resilience in order to deal with the difficulties.  Here's to morning pages daily art practice, wonderful memories and to creating possibility for a happy artist's life!
 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Are you attending the Master Class Visual Art Journaling at the Expressive Therapies Summit in NYC?


"Play & Art"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

Are you attending the Master Class Visual Art Journaling: Remembering Who We Are with a Daily Art Practice, Expressive Therapies Summit in NYC, Friday, November 11th, 2016, with Susan Anand and Lani Gerity?

We will be learning how to create a simple art journal from basic office supplies and then actually working in them with a series of very easily adaptable directives. When you arrive we’ll have a link for you to download a “zine” of instructions and directives to keep. 
There will be basic art supplies provided but we highly encourage you to look at this list, prepare ahead and bring some fun collage materials. The thing with learning a new skill is that it is so much easier if you are using images and materials you love.  This will be a time to create and play with your best stuff!

You might think about bringing some of these items:


Gaffer’s tape or hockey tape (cloth tape)


Fabric samples and any favorite paper scraps.

Wall paper samples, scrapbooking card stock, craft tags, blank artist trading cards, index cards and heavier scraps.


Magazine images, photo images, printed images for collage which could include human figures (when collecting human figures it’s an interesting exercise to look for images that match the demographic that you happen to work with), animals, interesting environments, interesting objects that could represent gifts and treasures, maps and of course wings. Let your intuition be your guide.


Interesting text, positive and inspirational words are always good, different fonts can be interesting.


Your favorite fibers and waxed thread is good for the simple binding.


Embellishments, beads, charms, watch parts, etc.


Washi Tape.


Your favorite pens (sharpies, paint, gel, etc.) to include written text.


Any favorite stamps and stamp pads.


And of course your creativity, inspiration, and sense of playful fun (most important).


If you have any questions at all, please contact me: lanipuppetmaker@mac.com

Friday, September 23, 2016

#147 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - Go for the second wind experience

"Send Light"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
Art therapist, Edith Kramer used to talk a lot about the Second Wind experience (an athletic idea that Montessori applied to education) in art making.  Her idea was that if we work on a piece and find that it doesn't quite work for us, step back from it to think about what we might change and then go back into it.  She was concerned that perhaps we don't give ourselves (or the people we work with) enough time to experience this. We can push through what runners call "the wall," to suddenly find the strength and inspiration to press on with what feels like a much better performance with much less effort.

In this case I looked at my "Send Light" collage, which I had already posted, and I got a sinking feeling.  Like "the wall."  But I had already posted it so I could have just left it.  But actually I was curious what it was that gave me the sinking feeling.  The "Send Light" theme seemed out of sync with the overly cluttered, messy background.  The two figures seemed out of sync with each other and the elephant didn't seem necessary in any way.  But mostly it looked dark and confusing to me, sort of the opposite of what it would look like if I actually sent "light into the heart."

 So after this exploration I went back into the collage (digitally) and changed things up, pushing past the wall and definitely finding myself working more easily with less struggle.  Encouraging the artist's second wind whenever possible can be a great way to have a happy artist's life.

"Send Light 2 "  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

Friday, September 02, 2016

#146 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - Remember times when you have been brave anyway

"Brave Anyway"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
This one comes from an art challenge over on 14 Secrets.  The challenge has some nice links and basically was working with fear.  Maybe fear by itself is a little heavy and not not exactly fun or conducive to a happy artists life, or so you might imagine.  So I started with memories of moments of bravery, my own and others'.  I thought of times when I knew fear but faced it anyway.  I thought of family members and friends who faced fearful situations with grace.  And of course favorite stories almost always have this sort of element in them. 

So here's what makes me happy, remembering times when I have been brave anyway, and creating a piece based on bravery.  And appreciating the bravery I see all around me, every day!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

November Art Journaling Workshop in NYC


"Play & Art"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

Registration for the Master Class Visual Art Journaling: Remembering Who We Are with a Daily Art Practice, at Expressive Therapies Summit in NYC, Friday, November 11th, 2016, with Susan Anand and Lani Gerity is now open. 

This class will be a day long intensive from 10 AM to 5:15 PM at
Executive Conference Center - Friday
1601 Broadway (enter on 48th Street)

The class will offer you a way to present art journaling in your therapy groups or in individual work.  We will be using simple office supplies and collage materials to create journals and then using a variety of “directives” we will explore art journaling as a way of building strength, resiliency, and self-care.

Gretchen Miller attended a version of this workshop in the spring and wrote up a nice blog post about it which you can read here.

#145 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - Work on your "vagal tone" with art

 "Abide"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

There's a wonderful blog post from  Feb 02, 2013 Psychology Today by Christopher Bergland, The Neurobiology of Grace Under Pressure; 8 habits that stimulate your vagus nerve and keep you calm, cool, and collected".  It's all about engaging our vagus nerve at times of stress.   Christopher describes releasing Vagusstuff, a a natural tranquilizer that we can self-administer, by taking a few deep breaths with long exhales. This is just one simple way of many that we can consciously tap the power of our vagus nerve to create inner-calm on demand. This knowledge alone should be enough to reduce the fear-of-fear-itself and give us "grace under pressure" next time we need it.  The post is a great little read with so much usable information for when life gets stressful.
He also has his 8 habits that stimulate the vagus nerve, so I thought create a little art based on these 8 habits and see how I feel.  Not surprisingly, the result made me quite happy.
 
1. His first habit is to visualize his vagus nerve, to actually see the lacy winding map of this amazing nerve and he includes a lovely drawing to help us with this visualization.  He imagines asking his vagus for assistance, even.  I like the idea but of course I want to create a character that gives me that feeling of calm, something that I can enjoy working with in my art a little more than his lacy drawing, some inner higher being that I might imagine asking for help from in times of stress. (See above)

2. His second habit is practice. He has power written elsewhere that our cerebellum can store muscle memory and allow us to perform gracefully under pressure. Getting the cerebellum run the show with the vagus nerve helps us create fluidity in our thoughts and actions. This goes well with a daily art practice.  Add in a little restorative yoga before art making and I think I'm practicing this one, daily.

3. His third habit is creating flow by balancing skill and challenge. He suggests we get in the habit of continually nudging against our limits. By increasing the challenge gradually you become more skilled and comfortable with more difficult tasks.  Again, this is easy with art making, always learning something new, trying new things, working with accidents.  It's all helpful and flow inducing.

4. Reframe priorites and values. This one is pretty neat.  He bases it on some research that Geoffrey Cohen, a professor at the Stanford University, conducted in  2006. He asked students to write a paragraph about a topic unrelated to an upcoming exam that was inducing stress such as: “relationships with friends and family,” “religious values,” “athletic ability,” and “being good at art” before the exam. This brief writing assignment significantly improved the grades of students.
So of course before we face any challenge that fills us with anxiety, we can create a little art about what matters most.  Even when the stakes are high, remember that every hurdle is an opportunity to learn. Mastery is a process.

5. Use neuroplasticity to re-wire habits of positive thinking.  We can generate positive emotions and learned optimism in our art making practice that will give us grace under pressure. The vagus nerve picks up on signals coming from the 'top-down' and from the 'bottom-up' and uses these signals to re-wire our minds through neuroplasticity.
Dr. Dawson at the University of Glasgow in Scotland: "Evidence from animal studies suggests that vagus nerve stimulation could cause the release of neurotransmitters which help facilitate neural plasticity and help people re-learn how to use their arms after stroke, particularly if stimulation is paired with specific tasks.”  Interesting!

6. His sixth habit is to seek out ways to create daily physicality.  For example cardio-respiratory activity, strength training and yoga stimulate vagal tone and  harmonize hormones and neurotransmitters linked to grace under pressure.  So once again, a little yoga before art making and I have this one covered.

7. His seventh habit is interesting.  Anxiety is contagious: Avoid anxious people. Christopher described how his father, a neurosurgeon, needed to have a lot of grace under pressure. He understood how delicate the sensors of his own vagus nerve were and would ask anyone in the operating room to leave if he or she was emitting too much anxiety.  If these anxious people cannot be avoided he recommends using headphones with music that creates an appropriate mood and blocks the ability of others' anxiety to affect your vagal tone. So when we are involved in our art making we can also listen to this sort of music and this will add layers of association and help the vagal tone as well.

8. His eighth habit may be the best.  Foster loving kindness. He feels that in order to maintain healthy vagal tone it’s important to foster diverse and rewarding social connections. In a 2010 study published in Psychological Science, Barbara Frederickson and Bethany Kok of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill focused their attention on the vagus nerve.
Their article was titled: How Positive Emotions Build Physical Health: Perceived Positive Social Connections Account for the Upward Spiral Between Positive Emotions and Vagal Tone.They discovered that a high vagal tone index was part of a feedback loop between positive emotions, physical health and positive social connections.
In the experiment Frederickson and Kok used a Loving-Kindness Meditation technique to help participants become better at self-generating positive emotions. However, they also found that simply reflecting on positive social connections and working to improve them also caused improvements in vagal tone.  So include a little loving kindness in our art making and see how that feels.  Guaranteed to support the vagus nerve.

So my #145 way to have a happy artist's life is to engage and stimulate my vagus nerve as much as possible, while creating my daily art practice.   Try it and let me know how it works for you!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

#144 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - Share some totally irrelevant fun!



"Irrelevant Fun"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
Over on FaceBook, I post art daily which is really one of my sure fire "how to have a happy life" techniques, but today I had so much fun with this image, this humorous looking kid, that I thought why not let the kid have some totally irrelevant fun outside her box, outside her regular environment.  So if you'd like to play, save her on your computer and see what fun she can get up to! 

#144 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life, share your fun.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

#143 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - Putting Together A Traveling Stash for an Art Journaling Workshop

 
  "Let Go of Certainties"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

Collecting and pulling together a stash of mixed media materials for Master Class Visual Art Journaling at Fourth Annual Mid-Atlantic Play Therapy Training Institute is a super endorphin release!  Something about a pile of possibilities is a serious delight for the Artist/Art Therapist.  Eye-candy for the Artist Soul.

On May 15, the workshop hand out will be available.  It will have a list of things you can start collecting to bring with you.  Here's a preview:
  "Art Journaling Stash"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

Monday, May 09, 2016

#132 - 142 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - Ten Burning Man Principles


"Special Things"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

I have been thinking more about De-Colonization (see previous post) and Susan Anand's and my presentation and workshop at the upcoming American Art Therapy Conference in Baltimore.  Part of the idea of de-colonizing our lives and minds is to learn more about who we are and where we came from.  Most of us have history of mixed cultures and identities which, if we are willing to embrace and explore, are wonderfully creative, fertile ground, as musician Leyla McCalla describes her immigrant/refugee/dislocated person finding her place in the world.

Yes, we need art!  So how do we de-colonize our lives and work happily with our fertile ground?  I just finished reading the Ten Burning Man Principles and I think they are on to something.  So here's my twist on their 10 principles.  I would apply them liberally in any art room, in fact I would apply them  anywhere!

1. Radical Inclusion
Welcome and respect the stranger (and sometimes that stranger is within). Hold no prerequisites for participation in your community.  Be kind.

2. Gifting
Be devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is that it is unconditional. Try a little guerilla art.  (Experience the connection between creativity/generativity and generosity.)

3. Decommodification
(This on is HUGE!!!) In order to preserve the spirit of gifting and generosity, seek to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising.  Stand ready to create and protect culture from such exploitation. Resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.  (Read up on Gruen Transfer)

4. Radical Self-reliance
Encourages yourself to discover, exercise and rely on your inner resources.  (Like working on your thousand ways to have a happy artist's life)

5. Radical Self-expression
Radical self-expression comes out of the fertile ground of our unique gifts.  And we get to determine the content of our own self-expression. Offer this as a gift to others. And of course we can also respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.

6. Communal Effort
Value creative cooperation and collaboration. Produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.

7. Civic Responsibility
Value civil society.  Find and nurture your place in society.

8. Leaving No Trace
Respect the environment.  Clean up after activities and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave places in a better state than when you found them.  It's not that hard, plus it feels good.

9. Participation
Be committed to a radically participatory ethic. Believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in groups, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Invite everyone to work. Invite everyone to play. Make your world real through actions that open the heart.

10. Immediacy
Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone in real culture. Seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with the "more than human" world. There is no substitute for the real, immediate experience.

Try these 10 principles in your happy artist's life and let me know how they work for you.

Friday, April 15, 2016

#131 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - De-colonization

"Simple Life in the Back Roads"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper. 
I read an article on Art Therapists for Social Responsibility FB group, "We Need A Decolonized, Not A 'Diverse' Education."  It was short, and well worth reading and pondering.  One thing that jumped out at me was the idea of inhabiting or occupying marginal spaces, "...practice inhabiting marginal spaces..."  was the directive.  So much of our lives within the dominant culture is about trying to get to the "center," to look like we fit in there, hoping to pass for dominant culture, and hoping no one ostracizes us for our differences.  I believe THIS is the essence of colonization, identification with those we perceive to be cool or powerful.  So much of our relationship with the dominant culture is about being colonized, and that it happens with our consent (sort of).  But we  may not realize it unless we practice inhabiting marginal spaces from time to time.

So how do we find and occupy these marginal spaces?  How do we learn to appreciate the margins?  As artists, I believe the fastest route to authenticity and de-colonization is by creating art every day, for ourselves, for our own enjoyment.  With practice, art making can be a quiet time of reflection, a time of turning away from the pressures of the dominant culture and a time for exploration of the "back roads," and if you allow it, beyond the reach of the mediocre and ever so boring, mundane mainstream.  There is a great deal of life and freedom in the marginal spaces, which leads to a happy artist's life.  May we all find and enjoy the simple and beautiful life in the back roads.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

#130 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - A little self-care goes a long way towards a happy life

"Be Very Happy"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
Sometimes when we are under stress and need the most self-care is exactly when we forget to look after ourselves.  And this of course adds to our stress and takes away from our happiness.   So the first suggestion here is PsychCentral's 49 Phrases to Calm an Anxious Child .  A whole list of phrases and ideas to reduce stress and anxiety for children, but actually reading through them is very soothing.  For example number 26. “Let’s list all of the people you love.”  This post credits Anais Nin with the quote, “Anxiety is love’s greatest killer.” The author, Renee Jain, says that if that statement is true, then love is anxiety’s greatest killer as well. By recalling all of the people that your child loves and why, love will replace anxiety.  Hmmm, sounds good.

During times of stress and anxiety, we can have bouts of insomnia when stressful anxious thoughts rattle around in our minds.   Combine the list of 49 phrases with a very cool website, The Sleep Sloth!
You can program the sloth to talk to you personally, and you can teach it to tell you what you most want to hear, perhaps one of the above 49 phrases?

What do you think?  Just looking at these two websites can send you in a nice self-care direction and towards a happy artist's life.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

#129 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artists life - Create Secret Messages

"#secretmessages"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
This happy adventure began with an image from Mandy Steward that Gretchen Miller posted on FaceBook.  You know, one of those little creativity sparks that pop up in life from time to time!
So I clicked on the image and I got magically whisked to Mandy Steward's blog and website.  Oh my.  So she has a secret message society with monthly inspirational zines, a wonderful eBook called "What is a Secret Message" and a Magic School.  Whee. 

What is a secret message? A Secret Message is a reminder of sorts for something you innately know at your core. Like a colorful fortune cracked out of a cookie at just the right time. I believe when you find one it can help air out your lungs, melt your heart and bolster your Soul.                                                                                                   - Mandy Steward
What could be better, more fun, more happiness inducing than to think about what secret messages you might be on the look out for and then to create them for yourself? 

"Warning: may cause breathlessness. May cause the first daring trembles of hope. May cause furtive joy.
                                                                                     - Hillary Rain

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Visual Art Journaling for Teens & Adults in Treatment: Creative, Messy, Contained

  
  "Let Go of Certainties"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

Registration for the Master Class Visual Art Journaling for Teens & Adults in Treatment: Creative, Messy, Contained at Fourth Annual Mid-Atlantic Play Therapy Training Institute is now open.  This class will be a day long intensive from 9:30 - 5:00 on Saturday the 11th of June, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia.  The course will offer you a way to present art journaling in your therapy groups or in individual work.  We will be using simple office supplies and collage materials to create journals and then using a variety of “directives” we will explore art journaling as a way of building strength, resiliency, and self-care.

Over the past few years, I've been creating and posting morning pages every day on FaceBook and my blog 14 Secrets for a Happy Artist's Life.   Here's what I have learned so far. 

* If you practice something every day, you get better at it.  
* If you practice something which encourages thought and reflection every day, you become more thoughtful. 
* If you practice something which makes you happy every day, you get happier every day.

As a student, I used to wonder why Edith Kramer, art therapy pioneer, repeatedly encouraged us to create art every day.  She also encouraged us to keep a journal for things we were learning, for the ideas and questions that come to us.  She suggested that these activities, if engaged in fully, would help us grow into our best selves, that we would be able to see our strengths and resilience unfold.  There are a lot of intrinsic rewards built into utilizing our inner strengths and nothing that promotes freedom, independence,  and a sense of self worth better than the realization that we have the power to create our own inner satisfaction and intrinsic rewards. Over these past few years of Morning Pages exploration, I have to admit Edith Kramer had a point about all of this.

This Master Class will be about helping ourselves and the people we work with to grow into the best selves possible, about engaging in a daily art practice, the benefits, challenges and joys of such a practice, and even some specifics for collage work.  In the past I have created eCourses, ‘Zines, and FaceBook groups in which participants can continue to play.  This master class will provide you with links, on-line support, and an eZine to download so you can continue with your own practice at your own pace.  If you have thought about art journaling for yourself or your clients, this may be the class for you.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

#128 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artists life - Try a little counter intuitive radical acceptance

 
 "Gift"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

I was working on my morning pages while listening to a dharma talk from one of my favorite Buddhist monks, Bhante Sujato.  Suddenly my ears perked up and I had to stop and rewind the talk a tiny bit.  He said:
It is painful and difficult  (pause) 

and we shouldn’t try to pretend otherwise  (pause)

It will break your heart (long pause)

And if it hasn’t broken your heart then you haven’t started practicing.  (pause)





I had to rewind it a few times to realize he was speaking of meditation, because what I was hearing was life is painful and difficult, and we shouldn't try to pretend otherwise.  And we know life will break our hearts if we are fully engaged with it, if we are living and loving with our whole hearts.   And I am thinking that is actually the point, to allow the heart to be broken. 

It's counter intuitive to embrace the sorrow you can feel in Bhante Sujato's words.  Everything in us balks.  But if we are willing to make that leap we find we really aren't alone.  And there is a very deep sense of some sort of abiding joy in this. 

Yes, it is painful and difficult but try a little radical acceptance of that fact and see what happens.  We are all here together. 
"We are Heart Artists" collage by Lani.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

#127 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artists life - Art Journaling

"Once Upon a Time"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
I sure don't why I didn't think of this one earlier, but Art Journaling or a little art every day is a sure fired way to create a happy artists life.  So I got out my new set of cards from Orly Avineri, The (art) Journaling Game, and picked one at random. 

1. Collect a few small simple images of single things. (Child reading, woman with flowers, elephant, and some text)
2. Cut around them and paste each one of them randomly on an uneventful page or on one that is subtle or simple.
3. Note how the small images become symbols and how they relate to one another to tell a visual story.  (That's one of the fun parts, having a little inner dialogue)

Then the card has a little bit of wisdom:
"Everything about art journaling is symbolic, metaphorical, allusive,  Process becomes concept whether we are aware of it or not."

Nice, eh?  That small amount of time that it takes to look for the symbols, allusions and metaphors is so dearly appreciated by the inner artist.  Try it.  You might just raise some serotonin!