Experience the Magic of Vision Boards, with Dr. Lori Ann Roth

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Vision boarding is a perfect companion activity to traditional forms of journaling. We had to the pleasure to speak with Dr. Lori Ann Roth who shares how vision boarding can help you grow comfortable with new ideas, enhance awareness of potential opportunities, and crystallize a dynamic new action plan. She also shares ideas to help you start your own vision board today.

Lori Ann is a life-long learner with over 35 years of experience helping individuals be their best. She is the president of “Learning and…Reflective Growth,” a company that specializes in training and coaching, and she is the author of The Journal Book: Your Journaling Journey.

To learn how you might incorporate vision boarding into your own journaling practice, listen to our interview, or read below to see highlights from our talk.

What Is a Vision Board and What Do I Do With It?

A vision board is a collage designed to be a source of inspiration. It usually features images, quotations, and stand-alone-words that represent the maker’s goals and desires.

An office wall can be the perfect place to hang your vision board. Let it motivate and influence your actions as you go about your day. At her former workplace, Lori Ann managed a team of employees, and they crafted boards together and hung them in a common space where they would see them each day. Alternatively, if your vision board is for your eyes only, hang it inside of a bedroom closet door to ensure that it inspires you every day!

Resource Ideas

Just like traditional forms of journaling, vision boarding does not require fancy materials. In fact, you probably already have all the materials you’ll need.  

  • Hang on to old magazines. Get out your scissors and enjoy some old-fashioned fun! Clip images that represent your juiciest goals and intentions. Look for quotations and words that inspire, and glue them onto your board.
  • Google it! Search online for specific images you desire, and print them in color on quality photo paper.
  • Grab a dictionary and thesaurus. Choosing just the right words to paste onto your board takes time and patience, but the results are worth it.

Make Your Own Vision Board

Lori Ann shares tips and techniques to help you begin visualizing your wildest dreams!

  • Set a goal. Lori Ann believes that the secret to creating a successful vision board lies in the preparation done beforehand. She encourages people to identify goals and desires in clear, comprehensible terms before moving forward. This first step, she explains, is an opportunity for deep self-reflection. This is the time to explore values and wishes and to envision the future you’re working toward.
  • Make time to visualize the life that you want. Many people create a new vision board once each year. For some, the start of the new year seems most fitting, while others mark birthdays, anniversaries, or the beginning of a new school year by making a vision board. Choose what works best for you. There’s no wrong way to do this.
  • Write it all down first. It can be a challenge to identify or pinpoint specific goals, but journaling first can help.
  • Gather and glue. Collect the images you’ll use for your board and start pasting!

What the Research Teaches  

Citing the work of Australian psychologist Alan Richardson, Lori Ann points to a study involving three groups of basketball players. The first group of players repeatedly practiced shooting hoops together. The second group did not practice; instead they visualized shooting hoops successfully. The third group did not practice or visualize throwing basketballs. Predictably, the players in the third group did not improve their skills. The players who improved most were those that practiced shooting hoops. Interestingly, those in group two who only visualized their improvement did nearly as well as the players who had practiced playing ball.

The research findings grow more interesting with a second study Lori Ann mentions involving players who combined visualization with practice. Overall, these individuals experienced the best outcomes.

From this study and others like it, Lori Ann concludes that it’s the combination of visualization and action that bring our goals to fruition.

As we continued to talk, Lori Ann shared the deep impact vision boarding has had on her personal life. After being single for 15 years, she recognized it was time for a new relationship. Lori Ann began to visualize the relationship she desired. Combing through a magazine, she even found a picture of a man who radiated qualities she was drawn to. She vision boarded this image along with other photos and quotations that evoked fun and romance. To accompany her vision board, Lori Ann wrote two typewritten pages to express her feelings and desires in words. Along with visualizing a relationship, she took action steps by going on dating sites and putting herself out there among good people she could connect with. It was through this process that Lori Ann met her husband to whom she’s been married for 2 ½ years!

Lori Ann left us with a few words of advice. A wonderful aspect of journaling is that there are so many approaches and all of them are right. Lori Ann assures us that vision boarding works similarly. Some of the people she works with take a linear approach to vision boarding. They might make boards with goals for the next six months, year, or even five years ahead. Others find this format too restrictive and choose a looser, less linear method that does not involve timelines.

Choose the method that resonate for you. The important thing is to be open to the messages your board reveals and to take the steps that turn vision into action.

Your Action Plan

  • Connect with Lori Ann on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Also visit her website.
  • Read Lori Ann’s new book, The Journal Book: Your Journaling Journey.
  • Listen our conversation on The Power of Journaling podcast.
  • Start work on your own vision board today!

If you enjoyed our conversation with Lori Ann, you might enjoy our article “Walk the Five Paths of Journaling.”

How to Get Started Travel Journaling, with Lauren Hooper

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We talked with Lauren Hooper, podcast host and seasoned traveler, to discover how journaling and travel make a perfect pairing. We are certain Lauren’s insights will inspire you to take along a journal on your next big adventure.

Lauren is a crafter, adventurer and storyteller who has lived overseas with her husband and pup for 6 years and created a career out of creativity and adventure. Lauren co-founded the Get Messy Art Journal program and now runs Radiant Art Retreats, hosts the podcast How She Creates, teaches online courses for creatives at lauren-likes.com, and is currently redesigning her popular travel art journal which will be available this spring. Lauren’s work explores the intersection of art, travel and good in the world.

To find out how you can incorporate journaling into your next travel adventure, listen to our interview, or read below to see highlights from our talk.

Lauren took her first creative steps as a child scrapbooking with her mom. This activity sparked in her a love of art and an appreciation of all-things creative. Growing up Lauren knew she would be an artist.

As graduate students facing the challenges of a limited income, Lauren and her husband made an amazing discovery. They did the math and realized that they would save money in the summertime if they got rid of their apartment and traveled instead. They used this time to visit with friends and see the country. A love of travel was ignited, and it became their life plan to see the world.

Throughout these travels, Lauren kept her pen moving. Filling notebooks with insights and reflections on the places she visited felt like a natural thing to do, and before she knew it, Lauren was a self-identified travel journaler.  

Lauren’s lifestyle continues to gift her with travel journaling opportunities. Today she lives on the campus of a university in the United Arab Emirates. With enthusiasm, she describes taking walks and biking in her close-knit community surrounded by desert and just a stone’s throw away from the city of Dubai. With gratitude she acknowledges, “Every day is an adventure.”

When Lauren reflects on what travel has shown her, she acknowledges, “You don’t know how much you don’t know until you know!”  She explains the ways living overseas has opened her mind up wide to people and experiences. “There is no wrong way to do life,” she tells us. Travel reveals the different ways a life can be lived well, and Lauren finds herself excited by the opportunities this mindset makes possible.  

Lauren is an avid journaler who speaks of her practice with contagious enthusiasm. “I love journaling. I love that it has so many levels and facets. This morning I did morning pages. Later I got out my art journal where I sprayed ink and glued pictures. Maybe I’ll add some writing to it.” Lauren uses a variety of journaling methods and embraces opportunities for creative play, experimentation, and variation.

The Benefits of Travel Journaling

The journals Lauren creates yield enormous benefits and enrich her travel life in meaningful ways because travel journaling:

  • facilitates deeper learning and reflection by keeping you present in the moment.
  • cements memories and helps the brain process “newness overload” often triggered by travel.
  • slows you down to help savor each minute.
  • helps replenish energy which in turn enhances the travel experience.

Don’t Forget Your Camera

Photos improve our memory of events and Lauren considers her camera an essential tool. Telling stories with pictures is one of her favorite things to do, and she encourages journalers to take photos. Lots and lots of photos. While traveling, Lauren suggest jotting down a few notes on a phone app that coincide with the pictures you’ve taken. At the end of the day, with very little effort, you’ll have captured the details you want to put into your journal.

Travel Journaling Tools and Tips

When it comes to travel journaling, Lauren’s focus is on simplicity and fun. She cautions journalers not to become overwhelmed by the process.

  • Make a plan. Decide what you will journal about. Keep it simple. You might try something like the top three highlights you enjoyed today.
  • Gather materials. Again, Lauren encourages sticking to the basics. A journal, a pen, and maybe a glue stick or a stapler will get you started. To add a splash of color, Lauren recommends carrying along a small watercolor set or colored pencils.  
  • Establish a set writing time. It might be before bed after a long day of travel. If it’s helpful, set an alarm so you don’t forget.

Once your pen is moving, Lauren suggests a concentrated focus on themes such as gratitude or storytelling that hones in on the highs and lows of the day. Go deep, she encourages. Unearth all of the details. You’ll be so grateful for the memories. Above all else, she reminds us, travel journaling should enhance the trip and not become another checkbox.

Create a Keepsake

Online services make it easier than ever to organize your journals and transform them into keepsakes. Lauren mentions a service called Chatbooks that will compile travel photos on Instagram into one attractive book. Lauren uses this feature often to pull together photos from her own travel adventures.

A Dream Comes True

When spring rolls around, Lauren will see a dream long in the making come to fruition, and we can’t wait to see the results!  Early in her travels, Lauren spent hours preparing for trips by making customized journals full of colorful prompts and paint. Doing this preparation in advance meant all she had to do on the road was get the words down. There was no need to concern herself with layout details she didn’t have time for. Not surprisingly, people noticed these journals and began asking for their own.

Soon, Lauren’s journals will be available in print. Lauren describes her guided journals as “books full of prompts that tickle the artist’s brain and help them express what they see.” Lauren’s goal is to provide a tool that inspires creativity and eliminates overwhelm.

Lauren left us with final thoughts we hope you’ll take to heart. “Take your journal and write about whatever is bubbling up in your heart and mind that day. Write about the most beautiful things, the hardest things, the memories and moments that come together to create this beautiful travel life soup.”  Yum! Doesn’t she make it sound so delicious?

Your Action Plan

If you enjoyed this conversation with Lauren, you’ll find my interview with journal art expert Caylee Grey full of inspiration.

Six Ways to Use Journaling to Access Heart Intelligence, with Sheva Carr

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For over twenty-five years, researchers at the HeartMath Institute have studied stress and emotions’ impact on interactions between the heart and brain. To learn more about their findings, we spoke with Sheva Carr, the architect and director of HeartMath’s HeartMastery Program. Sheva helps others access heart intelligence and peace of mind in order to receive the benefits of the heart’s impact on relationships, health, performance, creativity, and the building of a global culture of peace.  

Sheva is the founding CEO of Heart Ambassadors, a capacity building organization for world servers and an official training company for the Federation of International Civil Servants (FICSA). She is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Board Certified Polarity Therapist and Registered Polarity Educator, and expert HeartMath trainer and coach. She’s authored Being the Source of Love and Where the Sky Meets the Earth, and her writing appears in various journals including Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, and UN Special. Sheva trains and mentors medical staff at distinguished medical centers across the US, including Mayo Clinic, Harvard, Stanford, Dartmouth, Cedars Sinai, Kaiser Permanente and founded the first HeartMath hospital patient education program with Cleveland Clinic’s Heart-Brain Institute at North Hawaii Community Hospital.

To learn more, listen to our interview, or read below to see highlights from our talk.

Finding HeartMath

While still a teenager, Sheva worked overseas as an aid worker helping street children orphaned by Nicaragua’s civil war. Returning to the United States, she lived with subsequent post traumatic stress disorder for eight years.

In medical school, Sheva met the man who would later become her husband. As fate would have it, he invited her to spend the summer at HeartMath where she took a job transcribing their scientists’ research. She explains, “At HeartMath I discovered that all of the symptoms I was experiencing were actually related to stress.” Motivated by the discoveries she was making, Sheva applied the tools she learned at HeartMath to her own life and reports that in two weeks of practicing these techniques, her symptoms were resolved.

For 24 years, along with her colleagues, Sheva has been leading HeartMath healthcare initiatives around the country, collaborating with medical institutions to help integrate skills for emotional self-regulation that provide capacity for the health and wellness and self-regulation of all of the physiological systems.

Heart Intelligence: What is it and why does is matter?

30 years ago, Dr. J. Andrew Armour introduced the term “heart brain.” He discovered a brain in the heart containing its own intrinsic nervous system, proteins, neurotransmitters, and support cells. As he investigated further, Dr. Armour determined that this brain had a different quality of intelligence than the brain in the cerebrum.

To illustrate this unique form of intelligence, Sheva refers to a phenomena described in Joseph Chilton Pearce’s book, The Biology of Transcendence: A Blueprint of the Human Spirit. If we took your brain cells and those of your cat, mother, and the president and put them all together in a petri dish, they would send out dendrites in an attempt to connect. Ultimately, their efforts would fail and those dendrites would implode and die. In contrast, if heart cells from a variety of individuals are brought together this same way, they begin to beat together as one heart in what is called syncytium. 

From this, Sheva concludes that metaphorically speaking, we could say there’s one universal heartbeat. When we learn to eavesdrop on the wisdom of the heart brain, she explains, it brings us to a bigger sense of self in the context of a larger whole.  In other words, the heart brain moves us from considering  “me” toward contemplation of the “we.”

 Pointing excitedly to younger generations, Sheva notes that their engagement with issues related to the environment and social justice is evidence of heart intelligence and adds that when we access this resource, we become more effective world servers and more fulfilled human beings.

The Impact of Heart Intelligence on the Body’s Systems

In 1995, HeartMath researchers proved the heart’s unique power and influence over the rest of the body’s systems. Scientists discovered that when we are upset, the heart rhythm becomes chaotic and incoherent. These findings were published in The American Journal of Cardiology.

Sheva explains that when we experience strong emotions, it’s as though we are looking through a shaky camera lens. In contrast, when we feel gratitude and  peace, a unique order and rhythm is established in the heart which helps to focus the lens of our perception of life so that we see through a clear filter.

Physiologically we are sending a signal to the vagus nerve which alters which part of our brain is perceiving and responding to our circumstances. When we experience stress and that rhythm grows chaotic, we enter survival mode. We begin to view life through the part of brain that is intent on basic survival. From that uni-dimensional vantage point, the brain looks at each situation as one which leads to eating, being eaten, or procreation.  

Heart intelligence provides access to more regions of the brain and lifts us out of  the black and white of survival mode and, as Sheva describes it, into the technicolor of multidimensionality. Heart brain access gives us more contact with our cerebral brain and helps it eavesdrop on intuition and instinct. Essentially, the heart synthesizes and amplifies all forms of intelligence.

6 Ways Journaling Helps Anchor Heart Intelligence

Sheva believes that journaling is an essential component in working to help the brain tune into heart intuition and intelligence. Based on HeartMath principals, she shares six ways to grow your heart intelligence with help from your journal.

  1. Tune in. When a difficult issue arises, note your body’s physical response. Sheva is aware that when her body tenses she is looking through the peephole of survival mode and acting from a place with limited information. Observe thought patterns as well as the behaviors of the people around you. In response, write your stream of consciousness down. Journaling about these thoughts and feelings establishes objective space between you and the triggering situation so that you become aware of inner incoherence.
  2. Establish a flow of gratitude. Begin by focusing attention on your heart region. Put your hand there and imagine the breath is flowing in and out of the chest area. If it’s helpful, count to five as you breathe in, and count to five as you breathe out. This practice will help take the nervous system out of survival mode. As you continue heart-focused breathing, activate a heart-feeling. Breathe gratitude for what you can be thankful for and compassion for those things you can’t.  Write down the stream of consciousness that comes forward. Writing about gratitude creates the smooth heart rhythm that opens up our higher intelligence. Gratitude and compassion open up the perceptual centers of the brain and heart.
  3. Ground the guidance. From this more objective place you’ve established, you are prepared to use intuitive intelligence to respond to the situation in play.  Write down your heart’s guidance to anchor it and return to later.
  4. Write a transformational love letter. We won’t always be able to inspire others to make the changes we’d hope to see. Writing a transformational love letter to that individual’s higher self is a safe and often satisfying way to convey the impact they are having on your life. This act can help release stress and tension.
  5. Heart-based planning. Mind mapping is a non-linear way of journaling that can be used to prepare for fun events or creative projects. For example, imagine you are planning a party. Draw a circle. Perhaps music appears in the center of your circle. Gifts and activities are added to the map. Next, focus on the heart.  Breathe the feelings you want yourself and guests to experience at the party. Make a second planning map with a heart in the middle and ask your heart for guidance. What elements do you want to bring to the party? Write these ideas down.
  6. Heart start to the day.  Sheva starts each day with a practice she describes as “energy accounting” in which she looks at the assets and deficits from the day before. Writing down which experiences provide energy and which ones drain it, can help you align your day with enriching ideas and actions.

Your Action Plan

If you found this conversation helpful, you might also enjoy our interview with Dr. Dan Seigel in which we discuss journaling’s positive effects on the brain.



How Journaling Can Help You Get in Shape, with Michale Hartte

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We are beyond excited to tell you about our interview with wellness coach Michale Hartte, because we know her ideas can help. Whether you struggle with achieving wellness goals or you’re just looking for extra inspiration to maximize your health regimen, you won’t want to miss this conversation. Discover the ways journaling can help you achieve optimal health and fitness.  

To learn more, listen to our interview, or read below to see highlights from our talk.

Michale has 20 years of experience helping people get fit and healthy through her courses and 1 on 1 consulting. She is also the author of The Fit ‘n Healthy Plan and writes for numerous magazines. Michale’s passion to help others stems from experience reversing her own cases of amenorrhea and osteoporosis through diet, detox, and daily routine. 

Michale credits journaling with saving her life. As a child, she struggled hard to fit in. Low self-esteem and a desire to feel accepted led Michale toward unhealthy behaviors like smoking and anorexia.

Years later, Michale began to seek answers. “I sat down and asked, ‘Who am I, and why am I here?’  I journaled about it, got it out of my body, and I started to see my story in my journal. It made sense, and  I realized exactly why I’m here.”

Since this life-changing discovery, Michale has established healthy habits, a strong mind and body, and now she helps others do the same. She attributes much of her success to journaling.

Michale’s Top Three Tips to Help Slim Down and Get Stronger

1. Have confidence in the right plan. There are so many diets to choose from. The goal is to select a plan that will work for the long-term and that emphasizes health not merely weight loss.

2. Be consistent. Establishing a morning time journaling routine helps maintain a schedule that ensures you reach your goals. Michale suggests starting each day by recording important key indicators in your journal which include tracking:

  • sleep patterns
  • energy levels
  • bowel movements
  • menstrual cycles if you are a woman

This kind of record keeping shines a light on important details you can use to track your body’s response to diet, exercise, and particular sleep routines. You’ll see where and when you’re  falling off track. In these ways, journaling helps us stay accountable.  

3. Find your courage and glean support. You don’t have to do this alone. Seek out or cultivate a community void of judgement in which you are loved and your health goals are supported.

The Value of a Good Night’s Rest

Each of us has different health goals. In Michale’s case, she’s focused on optimizing her brain and body health in order to ensure a long and productive life. To achieve this goal, she commits to getting enough sleep. As an explanation, she recommends everyone read Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival by T. S. Wiley and Bent Formby.

Wiley and Formby show that getting the required amount of sleep supports healthy weight loss because it curves our cravings for unhealthy carbs. Among other benefits of a good night’s rest cited in this book are:

  • reversal of type 2 diabetes
  •  relief from depression
  • normalized blood pressure
  • reduced risk of heart disease and cancer

All of this sounds great, but sometimes a good night’s sleep feels elusive. Michaele has an answer for that. She explains that preparation for a good night’s sleep starts in the morning.

Michale credits a consistent morning routine with her healthy sleep hygiene. In the morning, she puts a kettle on for beloved black organic coffee—chock full  of antioxidants to support healthy aging. For this part of her day, Michale remains in a fasted state, giving her body time to “clean up old worn out cells.” She does an oil pull with coconut oil while waiting for coffee. From there, along with her coffee, Michale drinks one liter of water within 2 hours of waking. This helps turn the brain on and gets her feeling energized. From there she enters her office where she takes out her journal and records key markers (sleep bowel movements, menstruation, and energy) from the day before. Michale reviews the information and makes connections between how her body is performing vs the food, exercise, and level of activity she engaged with the day before.

This journaling routine, Michale notes, helps people be in alignment with their goals.

Healthy Meal Plans That Squash Inflammation and Lower Blood Sugar

Michale doesn’t track the specific foods she eats and never records calorie counts. She discourages her clients from doing so as well. Insead, she offers tips to ensure your body gets exactly the nutrients it needs to perform well.

  1. Choose your protein source. Protein is a part of every cell in the body and it’s a fundamental part of a healthy diet.
  2. Eat healthy carbs. We need fiber found in colorful veggies to produce regular bowel movements that remove toxins from the body.
  3. Consume healthy fats for their anti-inflammatory effects.
  4. Prebiotic foods like beets and dandelion greens and probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and yogurt encourage healthy gut bacteria.
  5. Digest minerals to help take pain away. Sea vegetables full of trace minerals such as nori, dulse, and kelp are good sources. Drink a cup of bone broth each day.
  6. Season your food with herbs and spices—parsley is a diuretic for the kidneys, oregano bolsters the immune system, and cilantro is a heavy metal detoxer.

 If all this talk of food is making your mouth water, you can download Michale’s cookbook, Fit ‘N Healthy Plan, on her website.

Your Action Plan

Michale’s final words of wisdom came to her via Bob Proctors and his staff. She teaches, “See what you want. Be it how you want it and become it now.”

We would also add, love who you are right now today even before you lose the weight.