April 12, 2023

J - Journals (Gratitude Journal, Discovery Journal, Art Journal) + BONUS

Gratitude Journal:

August 2013, in the middle of a bout of depression, I posted three gratitudes a day on my Facebook profile. I did this every day for three weeks. This challenge helped me to look for blessings during a time when I didn’t feel very blessed. In fact, I felt forgotten by everyone, including the Higher Powers. Most days, it was tough. I had to wrack my brain for something, anything, but reflecting on gratitudes that aren’t material objects (because I didn’t have many) helped me to look deep within and evaluate my life and myself in ways I usually wouldn’t

August 6, 2013:

Someone I know has been posting about 3 things she is grateful for every day, and when she challenged her friends to give it a try for three weeks, I thought I’d do it, because I’d rather spend my day thinking of 3 things I’m grateful for than being depressed about the things I can’t do/don’t have. So here it goes!

1. A healthy computer (...almost had to bring it in to get fixed!)

2. My crazy, funny, and adorable nephews, Mello and Carmello

3. My creativity

Some people keep a gratitude journal going year-round and write in it every day. I did this once in 2020. That may seem daunting at first, but like anything, if you keep up with it long enough, it’ll become a habit, and discovering what you’re thankful for at the end of each day can lift your mood significantly.

Challenge: Document three gratitudes a day, in any way that you want (you can journal them, tweet them, post them on Facebook, or do daily blog posts) for at least three weeks. See how you feel while coming up with these gratitudes each day. Does it get you to look at your life with clearer eyes? When you finish the three weeks, evaluate your experience. What did you come up with on those especially tough days? Realize that even in your darkest moments you can find the light…three tiny beams of light.

Discovery Journal

Throughout this book, I offer several different journaling techniques (morning/night pages, dream journal, gratitude journal, 100 Happy Days), but this one is different from those, because this journal is illustrated. I found out about the discovery journey by reading Simple Abundance: A Day Book of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach. I picked up this book around 2012 or 2013 and read each day’s passage in the morning after having breakfast. It became part of my morning ritual, which did bring me joy. Her tone is so friendly that you can’t help but feel comforted.

The idea of the discovery journal is to treat it like an “explorer’s log” and to let it nurture your creativity. Fill a blank journal with any sort of image that speaks to you. When I started mine, I got a stack of free National Geographic magazines from my local library. Flipping through my discovery journal, I can tell you that I have images of the Statue of Liberty, pandas, penguins, whales, a ballerina in red ballet flats, and landscapes, most of which are of Arizona and the Grand Canyon. I love the rock formations and all that orange dirt.

When I was a teen, I would tear out fashion and jewelry from Vogue magazines, and I kept them with my notebook where I drew my own designs. Recently, I added them to my discovery journal.

You can do this, too. Whatever you enjoy, get magazines for it. Check your local library for free magazines. Also, try thrift stores where you could probably get a stack for a dollar.

Art Journal

My friend, Lisa Thomson, an author and blogger, has an art journal where, instead of writing, she sketches or paints what she’s feeling or going through. She is a fabulous artist. Her work speaks volumes and makes me feel.

I started my own art journal while healing from surgery, and I used that journal to document what I went through. If you flipped through my art journal, you’d see a drawing of my incisions, a watercolor of the bruise on my arm from the IV needles, and a pencil sketch of a tree from my backyard, which was my view while I stretched out on the couch, healing.

Lisa also has “junk journals,” which she makes completely from “junk” around her house. The covers are cardboard, and they are held together with wired ribbon. The insides contain postcards and free downloads she painted. I love the look of them. They are so artsy.

If you have an artist’s hand, you can do an art journal, too. Better yet, combine all techniques (discovery journal, art journal, junk journal) into one book. Paint and sketch on the days you want to create art. On the other days, create collages of images you found from magazines or on free download sites. In my art journal, I taped in my hospital armbands, because I had four, the most I’d ever had for any surgery.

What to Add to Your Discovery/Art Journal:
- Old post cards (you can find them at antique stores)
- Greeting/birthday cards
- Your own sketches/photography
- Quotes (make your own using cut-out words from magazines)
- Poems
- Encouraging words
- Stickers

Don’t restrict yourself or second-guess yourself. Don’t leave out an image because you think it’s silly or not important. If you tore it out, if you saved it, if it called out to you at some point, add it. Don’t remove anything from your discovery/art journal, either. Keep it there. You needed it when you added it, so that means it’s significant. Even if it doesn’t mean much to you a year later, it may again in the future.

Discover yourself.

One image at a time.



J - Justices

Excerpt from Universal Killer:

The Justices, seven neutral individuals appointed decades ago to make fair decisions regarding issues that could impact New Vida. If you wanted to do anything in New Vida—start corporations or open certain facilities, cut down trees or clear land—you needed their approval. Even law enforcement had to go through them to receive access beyond their departments.
You will meet the seven powerful Justices in a later Avrianna Heavenborn novella for a crucial event that changes Avrianna's life and New Vida, Avrianna's world.

You can read Universal Killer, Cocky Killer, and all future Avrianna Heavenborn novellas on Patreon for just $5.00 a month. You get access to special perks, too, and you pay-it-forward to a good cause because 10% of all earnings go to StandUp for Kids, a charity that helps homeless American youth.


  1. I tried gratitude journaling once during an especially difficult time. It seemed to make me angry because I'd focus on what was going wrong, which is the opposite of the goal. But my brain was all, "why can't I fix this and how could I have prevented it." Except the answer is I couldn't. And I struggled with gratitude that I was just alive (or brought back).

    But, as a wee little kid, I did make "art" journals with clippings of cute images from coupon insert ads and whatever. Mostly cats and cereal.

    1. I was the same way, at least when I was a kid. I hated using pretty journals for the things that were going wrong or troubling me, but now it an help me work through those things and get things off my chest.

  2. G'day Chrys,
    When I was teaching back in the early 2000's, I used blogs as journals with my students. End of many days, think back to what they had learned and where they could improve in future days.

  3. I used to have a catch-all journal, which was filled with a lot of random things, including a lot of collages I made from images I found in magazines. I enjoyed making them a lot. It was a great other creative avenue to explore.

    1. That sounds like an awesome journal and a fun one to create.

  4. I've done a positivity journal on FB once. It gives one a fresh perspective. Journal is a great word for J. Happy A-Z!

    1. A positivity journal sounds like a great idea!