Love What You Love

Years ago, my dear friend Christine Mason Miller sent me this box full of treasures: a dried hydrangea bloom, a metallic skull, a plastic goat, a seed pod, a tin whistle, a tiny notebook, a brocade pouch filled with lavender, a smattering of seashells and more. I cherish this box of odds and sods. Every now and again I open it up and, one by one, I take each item out and admire it closely. Then, with gentle reverence, I put each piece back and close the lid.

It reminds me of the ‘memory box’ I’ve been keeping for years. The blue box itself is from a gift I received when directing a show for a Turkish youth drama group. Inside is a translucent bow that crowned a gift from my mom, knitted bells made just for me by my childhood babysitter, a pink plastic squirt ring, a Mr Dressup button, a Latvian ribbon from my grandma. Every now and again I open it up, take each treasure out to admire it and then, with gentle reverence, I put each one back in.

This week was the first time I became aware that I do this, that I love this.

In a doll-making assignment in Carla Sonheim’s yearlong art class, Carla pulled out bits of ribbon and fabric and buttons and lace, I got teary. What was that about? During our recent renovation, I had let go of supplies like this. I decided to simplify, to focus on the arts that speak to me most: drawing, painting, photography and collage. I let go of fabric and buttons and wire and yarn and any number of some such things.

It was good to let them go but in that moment I missed them, not because I wanted to use them but because I enjoyed them for their own sake. I love opening up a box of buttons and seeing the array of shapes and colours, hearing them click against one another as I run my hand through the pile. I love the extravagance of ribbons, how they feel as they pass through your fingers. I love old pins with coloured pearls on their tips arranged around a plastic circle or stuck in a satin cushion. Treasures all.

In that moment, I recognized this love and all the ways it shows up in my life.

The top drawer of my writing desk is full of miscellany: a “My 2 Cents” change purse full of coins from travel destinations, a cat toy Shibumi loves but is too noisy to bear, the key we accidentally brought home from our hotel in Nice, an address stamp that stamps my mom’s address, a kaleidoscope and, believe it or not, a piece of wood from the famous Bluenote schooner from Nova Scotia.

And what about jewellery! I open a box and find my pink plastic triangle earrings circa 1984, my mother’s green and gold necklace (which I will never wear but will also never part with), my grandmother’s old watch, a pair of linen gloves, a unicorn necklace from my high school boyfriend, a broken sodalite ring, a moonstone a friend gave me for our wedding.

How did I not know I do this?

This gathering, this love of objects and artifacts is me through and through. I see it right back to the days when I was little and loved to pull things out of my mom’s purse – her wallet, her lipstick, her keys – and then put them all back in again.

Did you do that too?

I think we creatives are gatherers by nature. This is perhaps why we consistently long for order and simplicity while also delighting in abundance and ‘stuff’. We are sensitive to the beauty of things, the simple sensory joy of loving what we love – a shot of colour, a coolness to the touch, a bit of sparkle or softness, a bit of mystery or memory. We read or add in layers of meaning. We see the connections in collections. We understand the autobiography in things.

But no matter the reason, no matter the why, the simple truth is this: we are allowed to love what we love.

This week I discovered my love for little collections. What love is calling you?

PS My sister Shannon hooked me up with a supplies for the class – a box full of love and treasures!

The Magic of Journal Club

Keeping a Journal Will Change Your Life

The first thing I do every morning is… well… honestly, the first thing I do is feed the cats. 

The very next thing I do is write in my journal. This practice is central to my well-being, core to my work and essential to my creativity. Time in my journal always leaves me feeling clear, grounded and ready to go. It’s amazing what the practice of putting pen to page can do.

It’s a simple creative practice. Pen. Paper. Words.

With a powerful result. Awareness. Awakening. Magic.

Starting tomorrow we’ll gather together, light our candles, pull out our pens and connect with our hearts and one another. For one hour a week, you will find inspiration and insight in a cozy sanctuary of encouragement. For one hour a week, you’ll establish a powerful creative practice.

I have always dreamed of being a journaler, and purchased hundreds of lovely journals and never filled their pages. I didn’t really know what to say or how to use the journal. And along came Jamie Ridler Studio’s Journal Club. As I write this, I realize that I feel this experience has been like opening the best gift I have ever been given. Lorna

Can’t be there live? You’ll have the recording in hand by the weekend so you can take your hour whenever it suits you. Every season people who participate via the recording tell me they feel connected and a part of the community.

Even when I haven’t been able to attend live, I can always feel the energy and it allows me to step into tender places. Thank you for creating and holding this space, Jamie. You bring an intimacy to the online experience that makes me feel like I’m literally in the studio with you and these amazing group of women. It’s magic! Kim

And this community is something special. No doubt about it. Every season people remark on the kind, encouraging souls that show up to this circle.

Journal Club is the most supportive and creative community of women that you never knew how much you needed and soon realize you cannot live fully without. Brittany

One of the unique things about Journal Club is that we take a traditionally solitary activity and do it as a group. One of the practical benefits of this is it helps establish your practice. Having a particular place, time and reason to show up makes it far more likely you will journal. One of the magical benefits is that you have the opportunity to share discoveries, to name and claim insights, plans and dreams that come up as you write. With each articulation, every new thought becomes more real. Your inner wisdom seeps into your bones.

It’s a safe space for me to show up to the page and in life and explore my dreams, desires, and dragons. My journaling (and writing) practice has cracked wide open and I’ve explored mediums I never thought I would with a sense of wonder and empowerment. Laura

So, today I want to invite you into this magical circle. I want to encourage you to take up your pen and get ready for discovery. I want to welcome you to Journal Club.


There’s a space with your name on it.

Will you join me?

We start tomorrow.

Register here.


When I first read about Journal Club I couldn’t imagine what that would be like, sitting in front of a computer with a journal by my side… and with journaling being something quite private, why would I do that together with others? Little did I know that I would be forever grateful I spontaneously decided to give it a try! Not only did I find a routine for journaling, but I also found a wonderful group of like-minded women, I can’t wait to meet for that one hour a week! Journal Club is where we write and share thoughts, ideas, laughter and sometimes tears, all under the inspiring guidance of Jamie and the wonderful support of her sister Shannon. And yes, it’s as private as everyone wants it to be and as open and welcoming, too. Thank you so much for this wonderful offering, Jamie! I wouldn’t want to miss one session of it! Rosie 

Journal with Jamie: Create a Circle of Love

Last season in Journal Club we did an exercise that shifted everyone’s energy in the midst of a truly turbulent time.  As we continue to face so much at the start of 2021, I wanted to bring it to you.

To participate in this journaling exercise, all you need is something to write with, something to write on and 20 minutes. A cup of tea and a candle are always nice addition to journal practice too.

May creating a circle of love bring you focus and solace in the midst of turbulent times.

with love,

Jamie

PS If this feels like just what you needed, join me for Journal Club for a weekly creative sanctuary.

Studio Diaries: Making the Most of these Odd Holidays

I’m back in the studio again and feeling rejuvenated after a quiet and gentle holiday. Though it was painful not to hug my loved ones or to spend in conversation over shared meals, I am so thankful to be healthy and home.  Justin and I spent the season fully respecting lockdown guidelines, only going out for walks and for necessities, donning masks anywhere we might encounter others.  (My sister-in-law, Sylvia, has made some beauties!) Even so, we managed to make the most of the holidays.

Some highlights of the season…

Baking cookies with my honey on a snowy winter’s afternoon was a delight. I am loving our new double oven that lets us do two batches at once (dangerous!) I have always loved making cookies and these white chocolate cranberry cookies by Trisha Yearwood for the Food Network will become a new staple. (Note: we replaced the macadamia nuts with walnuts and wow!)

Speaking of cookies, we were also treated to my sister Shannon‘s traditional favourites. She’s been making and sharing these sugar cookies since she was just a kid. In my mind’s eye I can still see her at our kitchen table, making the batter. This year we were lucky that according to the guidelines at the time, Shannon was able to come over. There was one family member who received enthusiastic hugs!

It was our first Christmas in our newly renovated home so it felt especially wonderful to have that ‘our first tree’ feeling all over again. The kittens quite liked it too. Unfortunately there was a lot of needle nibbling but the better moments saw the cats curled up underneath the tree or enjoying their new ‘hiding spot’ in the corner.

For Christmas gifts this year, we gave ourselves warm winter coats so that we could keeping going out for walks no matter the weather. Justin and I went out on the quiet of Christmas night to take in the lights of our neighbourhood. So many people put in an extra effort in the hopes that more lights and decorations would lift everyone’s spirits.  They certainly lifted mine.

After Christmas, I enjoyed time thoughtfully preparing for the transition from 2020 and 2021. It is so powerful to close one year with awareness and step into the next with clarity. There’s a whole section for crossing this threshold in the Studio Yearbook. A cup of tea, a pen and candlelight and I was all set!

This year I also made a comprehensive list of major moments and achievements of the year and again, my yearbook was an awesome resource. I could go back and witness the major social aspects of the year like the pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many others and the resulting powerful civil rights response, followed by an intense US election.  I could also see the achievements of the studio. This year I produced 4 Studio Yearbooks, 3 seasons of Mindful Mondays, 2 seasons of Journal Club,  50-ish newsletters, dozens of Behind the Scenes videos, two quiet videos (journaling and collage), the Journal Showdown, 5 new Creative Practice videos that became our welcoming series plus a brand new program which starts this year, Devotion. The studio also offered multiple Journal Club scholarships and contributed hundreds of dollars to the Black Solidarity Fund.

Between Christmas and New Years, I also engaged in one of my favourite activities: creating Vision Cards. A vision card is a like a mini dreamboard for priorities (what I call focus areas) that you actively choose for the year ahead. These cards serve as touchstones that keep you focused on what truly matters to you . Allowing your true priorities to guide your way is a powerful step in creating a life that is in alignment with your heart.

My Focus Areas for 2021: The Studio, Self, Home, Writing, Art, Spirit, Vitality, Prosperity, Life, Learning, Beauty and People.

I am also thrilled to say that I spent quite a lot of time filling my creative well with both dancing and collage. It was particularly magical to dance with both of my sisters on the eve of the winter solstice. On New Year’s Eve, I watched the moon rise above the clouds as I danced. It felt like an auspicious sign for the year ahead. There is magic in dancing.

Here’s a song for you to dance in some magic for the New Year too!

 

Building a Bridge of Light for the Winter

As we enter the final weeks of fall, it’s time to prepare for winter. In our neighbourhood, holiday decorations are early and abundant this year as people try to light the way through what continues to be a challenging time. I’ve been thinking about how to do that here in the studio, how to create a bridge of light to bring us through winter. This will be the intention for all of our winter offerings, all the things we choose to share a do. Here is a look ahead. I hope there is much in this that brings some light to you.

The Planning Day Retreat. At the beginning of any great adventure, you don’t really know what lies ahead. In response, we often create our plans out of a desire to allay our fears of that unknown and control the outcome. This often leaves us feeling constrained, diminished and, when we inevitably find ourselves unable to control life, like a failure. What if instead, we made plans that are more like star charts? What if we tune our inner compass so we always know when we are pointed in the right direction? What if we plot a confident course but leave room for side trips and wonder? What if we became adventurers? (Registration is open now.)

Devotion. In this new program, an intimate group of creative hearts will join me in a 13-week journey of artistic devotion. This is an intensive program designed to lift you into an unshakeable relationship with your creative work. No pushing or proving. No selling or justifying. Instead, a winter immersed in your art, a chance for you to fall in love with one another all over again. Devotion is a season committed to exploring and embracing your own voice, your own style and the artist you are truly meant to be. (Registration is currently open only to the waitlist. Open registration starts next week.)

Journal Club. In the dark days of winter, nothing is better than grabbing a cuppa and your journal, lighting a candle and cozying up for an hour with the welcoming community of Journal Club. Whether you are new to journaling or a seasoned pro, you’ll discover fresh avenues into the workings of your creative heart. Unlike when you journal on you’re own, you’ll have the opportunity to share your discoveries with others who will bear loving witness to your truth. Journal Club holds our joys, our tears, our foibles, our fears, our dreams and our sorrows – just like our journals do. (Registration will open next week. This season several scholarships will be available.)

Mindful Mondays. Mondays take on a whole new tenor when they begin in a circle of celebration, intention and support. In this gentle and powerful gathering, we begin with a practice of journaling and meditation. We then use a unique combination of imagination and focus to develop our plans for the week. As we move through the season, this process draws each of our lives deeper and deeper into alignment with what matters most. We do this in a circle of support and shared wisdom. Each Monday, as I plug in my twinkie lights and step into this circle, I feel a sense of hope and joy. There is magic in knowing that we are each stepping into our week with awareness and intention. (Registration will open next week.)

The Studio Yearbook. Remember when you were young and you believed that books could hold magic? (Maybe, like me, you still believe.) There is magic in the yearbook, [FIRST NAME GOES HERE]. There really is. This seasonal fill-in-the-blank journal is like a studio for your life and your creativity. As you move through winter, it will guide you to open your awareness, to seek inspiration and express gratitude. It will remind you of the wisdom you are gaining and prompt you to dream. As you fill your Studio Yearbook with your words and imaginings, your doodles and papers, your colours and quotes, it will shine a light on the unique beauty of your artistic heart. Then, as in all good magical books, you will discover what you had hoped for all along: the magic is in you. (The Studio Yearbook is available now.)

And More…

As we set the winter season in motion, I also intend to bring you more Quiet Studio videos and maybe even some live events. I intend to spend the season continuing to build a bridge of light.

How to Supercharge Your Learning (a secret you might not want to know)

I know there are a lot of avid learners in this studio and you’re probably one of them, Jamie. Your creative life is no doubt richly nourished by inspiring books, creative classes and YouTube videos. Me too – both as a student and as an instructor!

Today I want to share with you a well-kept secret that will supercharge your learning. It’s a secret that we often keep even from ourselves. It’s called… doing.

Let me tell you about a brilliant client I worked with. He was fascinated by Buddhism, particularly the power of meditation. When I encouraged him to give meditation a try, he said, “Nah, I think I’m happy reading about it.”

Sound familiar? So many of us do this, especially if we are highly sensitive creatives. It’s so much safer and cozier to tuck into a book or to watch another tutorial than it is to clear off the table and paint or to sit down and write a first draft or to figure out how to use that dang sewing machine.

But here’s the thing…

All of these fascinating creative pursuits come alive and into focus when you dare to do them!

For example, imagine you want to learn to draw faces. You watch tutorials. You buy classes. You read books. All of that gives you a great foundation but you still don’t know how to draw faces. The only way you’re really going to learn is to…. draw faces.

You make a first attempt and it sucks. You try again and it sucks too. But if you can stick with it, if you draw another face and another and another, each one becomes incrementally, maybe imperceptibly, better than the last. You develop a sense of proportion. You start to find your way of drawing a nose, a chin, an upper lip. You remember what you’ve read and understand it in a new way. You try what you learned in class and maybe it clicks. You start to discover things that no one can teach you, like how you love pink and yellow side by side or that blending makes you sigh with joy so you use pastels and abandon markers.

You find your way.

It’s the same with any medium. Only when you start creating in the kitchen, do you begin to recognize how dough feels when it’s ready or that you scoff at recipes that ask for only one clove of garlic. Only when you work on knitting projects do you realize what the right tension feels like in your hands or that certain types of yarn glide through your fingers and others have you cursing like a sailor.

With every step, with every action, not only are you learning but you are also becoming.

You are becoming the artist that you want to be.

All of the wisdom that people share is a blessing and a gift. Each resource you draw on is like a precious map for your creative journey but the adventure truly begins when you do.

Create with Me: Sorting Collage (Quiet Studio Time. No Music. No Instruction.)

I’ve been feeling the need for some Studio Time and thought maybe you have been too. Choose something you’d like to work on for 30 minutes and join me.  Gather your supplies and let’s spend some Studio Time creating together.

I’ll be working on gathering collage materials for a future piece. I am sorting strictly by colour combinations, paying no attention to the subject matter at all. I started looking through pages until a colour story started to catch my eye and then that’s what I started to look for. Today it was blues and yellows, like the pale sun in the sky.  I also had a pile of sort of acidy greens for a piece I haven’t completed and a pile for some pinks that looked like they might be my next piece.

What did you work on in your studio?

Things you might be interested in:

  • You can listen to the same playlist as I did, Dance Hits on Spotify
  • The fantastic green boxes I use for collage materials are the Kuggis series from IKEA. They come in various colours and sizes and they stack beautifully.
  • My extravagant cordless Bose headphones are one of my favourite things ever. I wear them around the house and listen to audiobooks while doing chores! You can find them here.
  • You might also want to check out my Journal with Me video. We can journal together at dawn while listening to the rain.