Sharing My Three Core Journals: Creative Living with Jamie eps 282

Creative Living with Jamie Episode 282:
Sharing My Three Core Journals

We creatives tend to have piles of journals, notebooks and sketchbooks of all kinds! I have so many it’s hard to keep track but through it all there are three journals that form my core creative practice.

On this episode of Creative Living with Jamie I share my three essential journals and how I use them. I hope it will inspire some new and helpful journaling ideas for you!

Take It to Your Journal

  • What journals are essential to your creative life?
  • What is your relationship to things being unfinished?

Resources & Mentions



Welcome to Creative Living with Jamie. I’m your guide Jamie Ridler and on this podcast you and I are going to go on a great many adventures together. We’ll explore all aspects of what it means to live a creative life and we’ll embrace ourselves as artists. We’ll get curious, we’ll wonder and we’ll follow inspiration. We’ll wrestle with tough questions and we’ll brave challenges and sometimes will ask our friends for help. Along the way we will discover our courage, our confidence, ourselves and one another. We’ll come to know our artistic hearts and from there we will create. And that’s when the magic happens.


Hey there,

I have to tell you that I have been noodling so much about this who over the past while. We’re in this wild and wonderful stage of recording while the ideas continue to develop so thank you for being here at this new beginning, in this kind of groundwork stage as we see which seeds take hold.

We’ve already had a journaling workshop that was a crossover episode with YouTube, so exciting. And last week I announced in my newsletter that we’re going to have an Ask Jamie segment, in which I answer listener questions. So, if you have a something you’ve been wanting to ask a creative mentor about, I hope you’ll ask me. Just email  me at You may just hear my answer on this podcast!

Soon I’m going to be starting an interview series called 101 Encouraging Conversations about Art. I’ve been dreaming this up for ages and I cannot wait to begin. I’ve just recently hired a Studio Assistant (Hey there, Amy!) and once I’ve passed a few balls over to her, this is on my list to get started.

I hope you’re as excited about these developments as I am. Honestly, I’m just beaming sharing them with you. And for today, today I want to share with you my three essential journals, plus a poem. I have shared these with members of the studio. So if you are one, I hope you enjoy listening. And if you aren’t, come on over to and sign up! You’ll be glad you did – and I will be too! Of course, I’ll leave a link in the show notes.

Okay, let’s talk journals.

Oh, my goodness, if you’re anything like me, you have about a bazillion journals, notebooks, composition books and sketchbooks. You’ve got empty ones, half-started ones and overflowing ones. You wonder all the time whether you should consolidate everything into one book or whether you need to categorize even more, having one journal per theme or project.

Oh, our creative minds, right?

I have tons of journals in all shapes and sizes for a myriad of purposes but I have three that form my essential core, three journals that I would be lost without, three journals that keep my creative life clear, inspired and moving!

Journal One: Free Writing

Journal number one is my free-writing journal. This journal is everything to me. It is my conversations with myself and with the Universe. It’s how I understand what I’m thinking and where I am going. It’s my safe and sacred place to tell the raw and the real without hesitation or fear. It is the one place in the world where all of my big feelings and brave dreaming, no matter how epic, will never be too much. It’s where I bring my questions and where I hear my intuition answer. I write in this journal every single morning, even if only for 10 minutes. I also grab it whenever I need to remember, process or get something off my chest. It is always near at hand. For this journal I use a large ruled ​Moleskine hardcover notebook​ and I usually pick a white one.

Journal Two: My Everything Book

Journal number two is what I call my everything book. Really, it’s really my planning journal. I think all of the women in my family have at one time or another had some version of this. Mine has settled into a form that I just love and have been keeping for years. For this I use a Leuchtterm 1917 medium A5 dotted hardcover notebook. It lasts me about half a year. What I usually do is pick a navy blue for the fall and winter and magenta for the spring and summer.

In my everything book, I use a two-page spread for each day. The right-hand side is a bit of a scratch pad, sort of a draft of my day. It starts with a loose list of all the things that I’d like to get done  (honestly, it’s often completely unreasonable!) I note ideas that come up throughout the day or things I want to remember. Sometimes I doodle or take notes from a conversation. It’s a free and messy space where I brainstorm, gather and imagine how I would like to create my day.

On the left-hand side I am much more ordered. I put the date at the top and throughout the day I list the things I actually get done as I do them, including any details I might need or want to remember.

For example, this week I had:

  • Morning chores
  • Morning write
  • Called to make eye appointment – Booked for Thursday at 5:00 pm
  • Created SOP (standard operating procedure) for setting up Zoom meetings
  • Proofed the summer Studio Yearbook and sent my notes to Alex.

This two-page approach, I find it honours both my imaginative, process-oriented side and my practical get-it-done side. Together in my everything book, they keep me clear, creative and focused.

Now, I mentioned the yearbook and that is journal number three.

Journal Three: My Studio Yearbook

My Studio Yearbook is my creativity inspirer, my memory keeper, my documented life! It’s a place for me to play, to colour, to glue. It’s my portable paper studio, reminding me to look for inspiration and insight in each and every day. It encourages me to dream under the full moon and to stay focused on what matters. It guides me and holds me and becomes an incredible record of my days. I have been keeping a studio yearbook every season for years now (and I know some of you have too!) and I treasure each and every one. Every volume reminds me of what I did and who I was in a particular season of my creative life. The Studio Yearbook is something I produce here in the studio and share every season. Right now people are working with the spring Studio Yearbook. At the beginning of May, the summer yearbook will become available and ready to begin on the solstice. So, once again, come on over to and sign up to make sure you don’t miss out on that.

These three journals are the core of my practice: my free-writing journal, my “everything” book and my Studio Yearbook. Together they nourish, support and hold the magical moments of my creative life.

I hope that you have a journal practice too and if you don’t, I hope that one of the practices that I’ve described inspires you to make a start. In the whole time I’ve been doing this podcast, I’ve done lots of interviews. I have asked many people what their number one creative practice is and almost always it’s journaling.  Not only is it a magical way to support your creativity and your artistic vision but I really want to make clear that it doesn’t have to be writing. There are a million ways (I think I’ve been trying to share that with you), there really are a million ways, to keep a journal. You can find and make, like, create a way that suits you. Take inspiration from examples like the one I’ve shared with you today but really give yourself full permission to pursue the fine practice of journaling in a way that is yours and supports you.

Now, recently in one of my journals I wrote a poem. I haven’t done that for a long time but I’m excited to share it with you today. It really is a response to something that so many of my clients have felt and spoken to me about, so many ways I have felt so often, and I hope that it speaks to you. It’s called Unfinished Business.

Unfinished Business

I expect to leave the world incomplete
Paintings half-done on my art table
Books half-written
Books half-read
Maybe my laundry in the dryer

And I will be unconcerned

Because this life was so generous
That it gave me more than enough to do
It gave me more than enough to tend,
to love, to be

And when I am gone,
If there is something here that inspires you
Pick it up
Take it home
Let it be a part of the generous abundance of your life

And when it is your time
Consider that being finished
Doesn’t prove you did enough
It doesn’t prove you were enough
That is a given on any day

Instead let all the unfinished business
Be proof of life

The draft of your novel
The half-knit sweater
The movie on pause
The laundry

All are proof that you were here,
that you engaged
and expressed
and created
and got dirty
with life.

For the moment you were here
you lived.

Closing Words

Thank you so much for being here. I am truly honoured and delighted to share this journey with you. Let’s keep living. Let’s keep creating. Let’s keep showing up to this wild  artistic adventure, no matter what. Until next time, have a wonderful time in your studio and remember, your life is your studio.

Plan Your Creative Season – a Mini Creative Workshop: The Creative Living with Jamie Podcast eps 281

Creative Living with Jamie Episode 281:
Plan Your Creative Season – a Mini Creative Workshop

Every season I love to make a plan for my artistic pursuits. I thought it would be fun for us to do this together and so I made this short planning video for you! I hope it nourishes your creative fire this season!

Take It to Your Journal

Here are the core journal questions from today’s episode.

  • What interests you creatively right now? 
  • What projects have been calling you?
  • What would you like to learn?
  • What is a guiding word that would represent the kind of season that you want to have?

Resources & Mentions



Welcome to Creative Living with Jamie. I’m your guide Jamie Ridler and on this podcast you and I are going to go on a great many adventures together. We’ll explore all aspects of what it means to live a creative life and we’ll embrace ourselves as artists. We’ll get curious, will wonder and we’ll follow inspiration. We’ll wrestle with tough questions and we’ll brave challenges and sometimes will ask our friends for help. Along the way we will discover our courage, our confidence, ourselves and one another. We’ll come to know our artistic hearts and from there we will create. And that’s when the magic happens.


Hey there. It’s Jamie from Jamie Ridler Studios and I’m so glad to be here with you today for what is my very first ever crossover episode where I am attempting, hopefully successfully, to both share on video for YouTube and also to make this a part of my podcast. 

And if you didn’t know the Creative Living with Jamie podcast is back. We’ve got a reboot. It’s kind of like Creative Living with Jamie 2.0. So far we’ve done an episode on embracing yourself as an artist, one on being a highly sensitive creative and also, how to show up to your creative work and your life when things all around you are so very hard. 

If you haven’t listened to any of those yet, I hope you check that out on Spotify, on Apple Podcasts, wherever you would- with whatever podcast catcher you use. I hope you check it out. 

Today I want to share with you something special. I wanted to make this a special episode. I want us to do something together like a mini workshop about planning your creative season. This is a bit of a take on what I do with my Devotion artists. Devotion is a program where I invite in a group of artists to spend their season immersed in their creative work. They learn the principles of devotion. They learn the practices of Devotion and they really have a beautiful season immersed in their own creative expression and really embodying what it means for them to be an artist. This is a bit of a take on what we do.  

One of the things we do in that program is create a curriculum for ourselves, so really design what we want to learn and do and create during the season ahead. I’m going to give you a little taste of that, so that you can really make the most of this creative season. 

The first thing I want to do is (and this is something I do in all my classes) I just want to shift the energy. I want us to really arrive and be present with our creative hearts, with one another and with this work. I do that by light. I’ve got the twinkie lights on. It’s very bright here today, so maybe you can’t tell. I also do that by lighting a candle. Today I’m using my beautiful Star candle to invoke that energy of guiding the way. We’re going to give ourselves a true north. 

The next thing I want you to do is to imagine a container of time. I am going to suggest a season. I find that 12 weeks is such a great amount of time to really make progress, to get things done but not so much that it feels like it’s forever. 

And so, I’m going to talk as though the season is what we’re all doing, twelve weeks of a season is what we’re all doing, but you can adjust that to work in whatever feels like the right rhythm for you. Let’s imagine that we’re starting to plan what our creative season is going to look like. 

You know what I’m going to say next. 

Grab a journal. 

We creatives always have a journal nearby or it doesn’t have to be a journal. It can be what I always say in the studio: something to write with and something to write on. It doesn’t have to be precious. This is kind of like sketching out a plan. It is sketching out a plan. 

So the first question I want you to answer is what interests you creatively right now? 

What interests you creatively right now? 

Just let it pour out of your heart and just let the pen keep moving. Let some words stumble out until I ask you the next question.  

What interests you creatively right now? 

Maybe it’s just one thing and you’re very clear, and that’s cool too. Just hang on there until I come to the next question. Or it can be all the things that’s fine too. Just tell the truth. 

What projects have been calling you? What projects have been calling you? What things have you been wanting to make? 

What would you like to learn? I know we creatives are lifelong learners. What is it you’d like to learn? 

And then lastly, what is a guiding word that would represent the kind of season that you want to have? Do you want to have a playful season? Do you want to have a sacred season? Do you want to have a productive season? Have you decided? Spend some time on it. You can always put me on pause if you need more time to think about it. What kind of season do you want to have? 

Okay, now look at all this wonderful stuff and think about the time container that you have created. Start to pull some things, maybe the things that grab your eye. It doesn’t have to be one thing. We are multi passionate creatives. It doesn’t have to be just one thing or it could be if you’re like, “This is my season of writing my novel and I want it to be everything!” Then do that. 

It’s kind of like you have a canvas and you’re pulling on the just right amount of stuff. You want to leave some white space. You want to have some variety, some dynamics. You’re designing your creative season and so you know how Full or spacious you would like it to be and what might marry well together.  

 know I like to have something like that I’m very devoted to that really is my core project, but I also want to have something that feels… I usually have something core for the studio. Then I want to have something for me and then I want to have something playful. So I might pick three things that have those three focuses. 

So just start to play. What if you were creating a beautiful curriculum for your season? What do you think might work on it, being respectful of how much time and energy you have and that exists. 

And if something new that wasn’t on your list comes to your mind, that’s totally cool. You can include that. 

I know it’s hard to choose, but one of the reasons working with the season is so great is you know, okay, this season I’m going to work on. I might choose learning how to make prints, sewing and my garden and then in fall or the next season I can make entirely new choices and get to the other things that are in my idea bank. That’s the other thing I want you to know now. Once you’ve chosen your two or three or whatever feels right to you, as new ideas come up, have a way to capture them. Have a little treasure box of all the creative projects, the creative ideas you want to pursue, all of the creative skills you want to develop. Then at the beginning of each season you can just go into that treasure box and go, “Right. Oh, this one feels really alive for me right now, and this one too. And oh, you know what? I’m not actually interested in that one anymore. I’m going to chuck it.” 

It will give you a framework, a time where you choose, create focus, immerse yourself in that creative process, come to completion, and then choose again. 

So, you’ve chosen some creative projects for the season. And if you haven’t, it’s okay. Keep noodling. Keep feeling your way into it. Make a commitment to something and live with it for a couple of days and see if it feels right. Don’t– If we just sit there going, “I wish I had everything. I want to do it all.” what ends up happening (you know already) we do none of it! 

And remember, promise yourself, “Hey I can come back and choose again at the end of this season. So all of you darlings, I’m coming back I promise. But for this season. I’m going to play with you and you and you and it’s going to be awesome!” 

So once you’ve made your choices, I want you to be able to set yourself up for success, and there are a couple of things to think about. 

One is the physical reality of this choice. What do you need? What are the supplies you need? What are the tools you need? What’s the environment you need? How much space do you need? Can you set up a dedicated space? If you can’t, how can you make it easy to pull it up and tear it down and pull it up and tear it down?   

If you think about that at the beginning of this season, you’re setting yourself up for a beautiful flow and making it easier for you to come to the work. That onramp always matters. So often we have creative ideas we want to pursue and we just never get to them. By making an easier and easier on-ramp, it’s more likely to happen.  

So think about the physical realities, tools, supplies, space. 

Also, think about temporal realities. What time can you dedicate to these projects? I know we always want all the time. But what time reasonably can you dedicate this season? Is Sunday afternoons the time that you’re going to give for painting? Is half an hour of writing every weekday going to work for you? Is setting up the time something you want to have a conversation with someone else about so that the whole family or your partner holds that time sacred for you? Think about time. 

These are the things these are two of the three things you can do to set yourself up for success. 

The third thing I invite you to do to set yourself up for success is to think about your energy management. We love our creative pursuits and they fill us up. They give us so much, but they also ask us to pour in energy, time, persistence, all sorts of things. All of our great ideas, all of our magic comes out of this corporeal being that we are.  

So how can you take care of this sweet artist that you are? What do you need? Do you need more vegetables? (That’s a good one for me. I always need more vegetables.) Do you need more water? Do you need more sleep? Do you need meditation time where you just let yourself have a break from all the thoughts that are in your head? What about journaling? Sometimes that can not only help you dump all those thoughts onto the page, but also help you see nuggets of ideas. What can you do to nourish you? 

Space, time and taking care of this: these are all the tools for setting you up for a great season of creative work.  

So we set a magical container today by changing the energy and giving ourselves time to focus on a vision for the season ahead. We generated ideas and possibilities and then we started to choose what made sense in a container that we also chose, that makes sense to us. And we try, as in our art, we try to craft composition and balance. We’re trying to do that with our schedule. Then we know that we’re going to go ahead and create conditions of our success to make sure we have everything we need. 

Studio News

I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini planning workshop for your creative season. I hope it supports really some amazing flow and magic and possibility to come into your studio and remember your life is your studio. I hope you’ll come on by open and check out all this on offer at Jamie Ridler Studios. 

I’ve got journal Club coming up this summer. Yay! We spend an hour on Fridays together, much like this, journaling and thinking and diving deep into who we are and what is meaningful to us. 

Also, Devotion. The current Devotion program is wrapping up for the winter. It will not be offered this summer, but it will be offered in the fall, so make sure you get on the wait list. It is limited enrollment, so get on the wait list now so you’ll get first notice when we are ready to start thinking about registration. 

Last Words

Thanks for spending this time with me today. It’s been a joy to spend it with you and have a great creative season. 

I’ll talk to you soon. 

Oh, and I almost forgot! I always do this when I  sant things to keep on going! We want to release this magic to shift our energy back so we can go from our artistic, creative, sacred, visionary space back to our regular lives. 

Bringing this energy with it, I am sending you all good wishes to your plans and imagining lots of magic taking hold. 

Take care! 

The Little Voice Within: How I Hear My Intuition

Over the years and in so many ways in my creative journey I’ve been tripped up by the same thing: thinking I had to ‘get it right’. The absolute worst version of this has been when ‘getting it right’ also meant being something other than myself.

This year I have recommitted to listening to my own heart and following my own instincts. It’s like getting off the highway and instead following a barely perceptible path. It takes patience. It’s full of wonder, sometimes scary, and it makes me feel magnificently alive. I feel like myself again.

In order to find and follow this path, I’ve learned to listen for and to my intuition. One of the things that has helped me tremendously with this is my current morning practice. I’m going to share the intimate details with you today in the hopes that it will inspire you to create a version that helps you hear your own small voice within. Please know that it doesn’t have to be in the morning. It doesn’t have to include the same components. It simply has to be a repeated and recognizable moment so that your intuition knows you are listening and that it is safe and meaningful for her to share..

My Morning Practice

The first thing I do in the morning is feed the cats. Without that, there will be no hearing anything but insistent and persistent meows! Once my pride is taken care of, my practice officially begins.

First, I greet the day. If it’s warm enough, I go outside and greet the sun, the sky, the earth, the wind and all the directions. If not, I look out the window and do the same. I take a moment to notice the world and remember that I am a part of it.

I make an offering. I might put out a few nuts on a rock out back or light some incense and put it under our lilac tree. This morning I scattered the tulip petals that had fallen from a bouquet of spring flowers. I think the world was pleased.

Then I prepare a cup of tea or coffee, ascend to the studio and plug in my twinkie lights. I light the candle on my altar, setting the intention to listen and receive.

Then I dance. One song picked on shuffle. I trust the music, I move and I listen.

By now both the Universe and my spirit know that I am here and paying attention. I sit down to my journal and write. I follow seeds of ideas or questions that may have arisen. I ask for guidance. I let answers flow through my fingers. I notice what comes easily and feels fresh compared to what feels tight and all too familiar. I write until I feel complete.

Recently I’ve been following this with a simple 3-card tarot reading. I shuffle my deck*, again holding the intention of listening and receiving. When it feels right, I stop. I cut the deck twice with my left hand and I place three cards face up. First, in the centre, a card for ‘me’. Next, to the left, a card for ‘today’. Finally, on the right, a card for ‘guidance.’ I look for illumination on any present themes or concerns. I close with a little more writing to gather my insights and reflections.**

With gratitude in my heart, I blow out the candle and begin my day.

Then (and this is important) I follow the threads.

After spending time tuning into my intuition and seeking guidance, I follow where I’ve been led. I do my best not to slip back onto the highway of habit and the ‘way it’s done’. My insights guide my day. They lead my decision-making. Each day I demonstrate to that wee voice that not only am I listening but I am also acting. I will not take the wisdom I have received for granted.

With this practice, day by day, I am becoming better and better at finding and following that barely perceptible path that is truly my very own.

May you find and follow your path. I hope what I have shared today helps.

PS You might be thinking, “Jamie, all of that sounds nice but seriously, how long does that take?!!  You know, I love taking my time with this ritual whenever I can (it is delicious when it is languid and long) but it can also take about 15 minutes. And sometimes it actually saves me time. Instead of wrestling with questions and decisions, more often than not, I find I already have the answer!

PPS This is an excerpt from Letters from the Studio, which I send out on Sundays. Join the studio and I will send these creative inspirations to you. Plus you’ll get a discount on classes, a free workshop series and more!

*I recently shared that I have a new deck that I have fallen in love with, The Light Seer’s Tarot.
** These reflections often end up in the ‘insight’ section of my Studio Yearbook.


During Dark Times, How Do We Keep Showing Up? The Creative Living with Jamie Podcast eps 280

Creative Living with Jamie Episode 280:
During Dark Times, How Do We Keep Showing Up

When times are tough, personally or around the globe, how do we show up for our lives, our art and one another?

Take It to Your Journal

Here are some journal questions inspired by today’s episode.

  • What am I feeling right now?
  • What would be soothing for my body?
  • What can I do?
  • What good is available right now?

Resources & Mentions



Welcome to Creative Living with Jamie. I’m your guide Jamie Ridler and on this podcast you and I are going to go on a great many adventures together. We’ll explore all aspects of what it means to live a creative life and we’ll embrace ourselves as artists. We’ll get curious, will wonder and we’ll follow inspiration. We’ll wrestle with tough questions and we’ll brave challenges and sometimes will ask our friends for help. Along the way we will discover our courage, our confidence, ourselves and one another. We’ll come to know our artistic hearts and from there we will create. And that’s when the magic happens.


Last week I started writing a piece for you and it ended up becoming last week’s Letter from the Studio, but then so many people wrote to me saying they found it helpful I thought I had to share it with you here too. 

You know last week we talked about what it means to be a highly sensitive creative. It turns out there are a lot of highly sensitive creatives in the Jamie Ridler Studios community. Even in my Devotion program, I asked the artists, “How many of you consider yourselves in HSC?” And you know how many of them said yes? All of them. 

So, no doubt, that’s part of the reason I have had so many tender conversations ever since the pandemic started, and all throughout about one theme in particular: 

How do we show up not only to our creative work but also to life when there is so much hard in the world? 

Now I want to be clear that I am far from an expert in responding to global crises, but I do think that during difficult times we must all share what we found to be helpful, share with detachment and with hope that something may be useful to someone else as well. It’s in that spirit that I share this with you today. 

So the first thing that I would say is… 

Feel your feelings  

When feelings well up inside of you don’t try to bypass them. Just putting on a happy face or shoving your feelings down or ignoring them simply doesn’t work. In fact, it can be damaging. It’s much better to cry and moan and rage and let that energy go. It’s better to dance it out or draw it out or throw some clay about. And that takes me to suggestion #2. 

Turn to your art. 

As artists we have this incredible gift available to us. We may feel overwhelmed, our friends and family might not want to or be able to hold the massive geyser of emotion that we need to pour out but our art can, and it will every single time. Turn to your art. Let it process that pain into compost and the promise of something new. 

Also, soothe your body. 

What will soothe your physical being back to a state of equilibrium? A timeout in a quiet room with the lights low, a cleansing, calming bath, nourishing comfort food, maybe some breathwork. What about a butterfly hug. Do you know what that is? (I’ll leave a link in the show notes.) Maybe an early night under a warm blanket. Start to build a repertoire of self-soothing strategies. 

Do what you can do. 

Some situations, like global crises, are by very definition overwhelming. The sense that there is nothing we can do feeds a sense of hopelessness and despair. It’s true that you cannot solve the whole problem. No one person can. But what can you do? Can you make a donation or raise funds or awareness? Can you lend an ear? Call your local representative? Vote with your feet? Practice loving kindness? Offer it to others? 

Please don’t diminish any contribution you can make. One of the things I’m coming to understand is that problems that we can’t solve alone ask us to come together and that’s a beautiful thing. Make your contribution. Trust that it matters.  

I’ll tell you that when my mom was sick and unknowing but very considerate man gave up his seat to me on the subway and that was everything to me. It’s years and years ago and I still remember how that felt. Which brings me to my next suggestion. 

Let the good in. 

Sometimes I know it feels like a betrayal of our humanity to experience joy or goodness when others are suffering. If war and injustice and the global pandemic have taught us anything, it’s that life can change in a heartbeat. We will all experience sorrow and joy, loss and life. So let the darkness remind you of what is precious and good. The nights you’ve been safe in your bed. The times you’ve laughed until you cried. The delicious meals you’ve shared with friends. The quiet joy of painting for hours. The wonder of sunflowers that are taller than you. Revel in it for yourself and remember that it matters for everyone. 

And lastly, keep your heart open. 

Don’t abandon yourself or others. Maybe, just maybe, we can use this time to learn how to take care of ourselves and one another. 

Let’s start now. 

Okay. I hope those are helpful and before we go, I want to share with you a bit of Studio News and then a short story from Pema Chodron that I keep tucked into my heart. I keep it there to remind me to stay soft to stay open and to stay present in the world as best I can. 

But first studio news. 

Studio News

I love that song. I know, I’m sorry if it’s a bit brash after such a tender topic. In that spirit of tenderness, I want to share with you that during the pandemic I made five short workshops on simple creative practices that I knew could support people during difficult times. These are available to you now, absolutely free. There’s one on journaling, one on collage, meditation, doodling and even dance. 

Come on by right now and sign up. You’ll get these creative practice workshops, one every day for five days. You’ll also get my Sunday morning Letters from the Studio, plus 10% off creative classes and the Studio Yearbook PDF, which is available right now. I hope you’ll come on by and become a part of Jamie Ridler Studios now. 

Last Words

Before I go, I promised I would share with you this wonderful story from Pema Chodron. She shares it in The Places that Scare You: a Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times. It’s really good read for right now to be sure so I’ll be sure to leave a link in the show notes. 

As I’ve mentioned, this little story reminds me to keep my heart open. I hope it does the same for you. Pema wrote, 

“When I was about six years old, I received the essential bodhicitta teaching from an old woman sitting in the sun. I was walking by her house one day feeling lonely, unloved and mad kicking anything I could find. Laughing, she said to me, “Little girl, don’t you go letting life harden your heart.” 

I know we have some serious things to contend with. I hope that this little story from Pema and the strategies I’ve shared with you today are helpful. 

Here’s just a quick review:  

  • Feel your feelings. 
  • Turn to your art. 
  • Soothe your body. 
  • Do what you can do. 
  • Let the good in and… 
  • Keep your heart open. 

Feel. Art. Soothe. Do. Good. Open. 

Have a great week in your studio and remember your life is your studio. I’ll see you next week. 

The Worst Kind of Comparison

We’re used to hearing about comparison in the context of comparing ourselves to others. Today I want to bring up a different kind of comparison, one that can rob us of years of our life: comparing where we are to where we want to be.

I don’t know about you but I have a visceral reaction just thinking about all the ways this shows up.

I thought by now I’d be…
I used to be able to….
I hate that….
What if I never…

This way of thinking has shut me down many a time and I have witnessed how often it has shut down the creatives that I coach.

I have learned to do three things in order to move through this painful comparison towards something else.

Acknowledge the truth.
Mourn the losses.
Open to the belief that even here there is goodness.

Many of us are facing, have faced and will face difficult and devastating circumstances. Many of us are facing the fact that our lives are simply different than we expected. Whatever the distance between what is and what we hoped for, if we lock ourselves into comparing the two, we can stay stuck in a loop of suffering for years.

Creativity lives in the present and, in an unexpected twist, it’s magic is strongest when it works with what is real.

Instead of losing years locked into comparing the way it is to the way we wanted it to be, let’s find the good that is available and get creating exactly where we are with exactly what we have. Who knows what we’ll achieve, experience and become on the adventure ahead!

PS This is an excerpt from Letters from the Studio, which I send out on Sundays. Join the studio and I will send these creative inspirations to you. Plus you’ll get a discount on classes, a free workshop series and more!

You’ve Got Nerve(s): The Creative Living with Jamie Podcast eps 279

Creative Living with Jamie Episode 279:
You’ve Got Nerve(s)

Often artists are highly sensitive people.  Learning to navigate the world and our work through the gift of our sensitivity can open a whole world of possibility and healing for the creative soul.

Take It to Your Journal

Here are some journal questions from today’s episode about being a highly sensitive creative.

  • I find that I am highly sensitive to…
  • This has been hard because….
  • It’s also been a blessing because…

Resources & Mentions



Welcome to Creative Living with Jamie. I’m your guide Jamie Ridler and on this podcast you and I are going to go on a great many adventures together. We’ll explore all aspects of what it means to live a creative life and we’ll embrace ourselves as artists. We’ll get curious, will wonder and we’ll follow inspiration. We’ll wrestle with tough questions and we’ll brave challenges and sometimes will ask our friends for help. Along the way we will discover our courage, our confidence, ourselves and one another. We’ll come to know our artistic hearts and from there we will create. And that’s when the magic happens.


Hey everybody. So I titled this episode you’ve got nerve… s and it is especially for my HSCs out there, my highly sensitive creatives. And let’s face it, if you are creative, chances are you are highly sensitive, sensitive to nuance, sensitive to subtext, to colour, to meaning, to energy, to sound. In fact, I’d love for you to take these three prompts to your journal. Yep, we are getting right into it. I’m going to give you all three. These are each sentence stems so I want you to finish the sentence. When you’ve done all of that, come back.  

So, the first one is, “I find that I am highly sensitive to…:

The second is “This has been hard because….” 

And the third, “It’s also been a blessing because…” 

Trust whatever comes out of your pen and then come back and we’ll chat a bit more about what it means to be a highly sensitive creative. 

One of the reasons that I love to give you journal questions right off the bat is because I want you to look inside first. As a sensitive creative soul, you take in a lot of information and sometimes it’s hard to know what’s yours and what you’re taking in from the world around you.  

As a creative, what you have to offer the world is something unique to you so learning to hear that voice within and then to trust it and then to use it is powerful work for the creative heart. I hope you take the time to listen to yourself before you listen to me. 

Let me tell you a little bit about my own experience. In my family, many of the women have what we call “nerves.” I would define that as a tendency to react strongly to stimuli. That could look like sensory overload. It could look like anxiety rising and trying to anticipate every possible outcome and then a rush to plan for every single one. It could look like supreme unfettered delight in taking in something beautiful or delicious or fun. It’s like we’re finely tuned instruments resonating with the pluck of the world. Only sometimes we don’t want to be plucked! 

Can you relate? 

Some of the gifts of this sensitivity is that we tend to see to the heart of things, recognize what’s unspoken, identify patterns and revel in the arts, both the making of and the drinking in. We do so in deep ways that include both struggle and bliss. 

As you’re listening, maybe you’re hearing, like I am, all the voices that you’ve internalized along the way. What makes you think you’re so special, little snowflake? Stop being so sensitive! Toughen up. It’s not that bad. What are you talking about? Nobody actually said that. You’re just being oversensitive. I’m sure you have your own version of these critical reactions. 

Some of you may have heard how I feel about dentists. In part, it’s because I had some awful experiences as a kid. I won’t go into them. Don’t worry. But I do want to say what a relief it was for me when a kind dentist told me that I did have a complex array of surprisingly tiny little nerves. Even now I feel a deep release in my body when I think about it. I was not playing it up. I was not being dramatic. I was having a normal and appropriate reaction to my unique set of circumstances. 

Now, isn’t that familiar? This happens all the time, in all different ways. The world gets frustrated when we do anything, want anything, need anything or are anything that is outside of standard operating procedures and those standard operating procedures were usually not made for us. 

Do you know Patty Digh? She’s a wonderful, creative soul. She is an author and an educator who works in the area of diversity and inclusion. Please, go ahead and check her out. She’s amazing. 

Recently she shared the story of going to the doctor and being told she was having a panic attack when, in fact, what she was having was a serious coronary event. (I’ll link to her post in the show notes.) Thank goodness she ended up trusting her instincts and getting help when she needed it, and one of the things that Patty said allowed her to save her own life and how you can save yours is by valuing your life enough to make hard, and what might be unpopular decisions. 

So, okay, how did we get from talking about being a highly sensitive creative soul to talking about life and death and what does this have to do with art? 

Have you heard this saying, “How you do one thing is how you do everything”? Well, I don’t always agree with it, but in this instance, I do think it points the way to something important. Our art gives us the opportunity to practice with how we want to do and how we want to be. The more we learn to navigate anything in our art, in this case our sensitivity, the more we’ll be able to navigate it similarly, in our lives. One of the reasons this is so helpful is because with our art, the stakes are so much lower.  

What if we get used to speaking our truth in our journals (like the real truth, even the unacceptable truth)? 

What if we got used to trusting our own choices in our work? Color choices, no choices, phrasing choices, costume choices, anything. 

What if we learned to tend to our nerves, our beautiful, sensitive, nervous system, learning to ride the waves of adventure and risk and failure and success, rejection, visibility, vulnerability and more? 

There’s a reason that we sensitive souls are drawn to the arts. They are a path for us, a pathway to understanding ourselves, one another and the world. What we learn on that path can grow our resilience, deepen our self-trust and build our confidence so that more and more we can bring to life into the world all the gifts we are here to share. 

I’ve got some resources for you to continue exploring these thoughts about sensitivity and our tender nerves, and I’ll share them right after Studio News. 

Studio News

This season in the studio we have two wonderful things to bring to you. The first is the Studio Yearbook, a guided fill-in-the-blank journal designed to bring your creativity to life and includes all the practices I use myself to support my creative life, from working with focus areas so I know I am spending my precious time and energy on what really matters to creating full mentoring boards so I can stay attuned to my wildest, deepest, most precious and most current dreams. 

The Spring Studio Yearbook has just begun, so it is not too late to get yours and all the wonderful bonus lessons that come with it. Come on over to open and check it out.  

I’m also excited to share that this summer, the one and only Journal Club is back. We will gather together weekly live for an hour of inspired and intuitive journaling. You’ll discover so much about who you are and, in the process, also connect to a really encouraging creative community, not to mention a creative mentor. That’s me. Journal Club is one of the all-time most popular offerings at Jamie Ridler Studios and I’m excited to bring it back this summer. 

Registration will open soon, so make sure you’re on our newsletter list. You will get first notice (not to mention a discount!) So again, go on over to open 

Resources for the Highly Sensitive Creative

Okay before we go, here are a couple of sensitivity resources that I promised. The first is the book The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron. It includes a self-test at the beginning to see if you relate to such statements as:  

  • I seem to be aware of subtleties in my environment. 
  • I have a rich complex inner life. 
  • I am deeply moved by the arts and music. 

So do you see why we’re looking at the relationship between creativity and sensitivity?  

The second book is one I literally just stumbled across today as I was preparing for the podcast. It’s one that is current and includes the context of things like COVID. It’s called Sensitive Is the New Strong: The Power of Empaths in an Increasingly Harsh World. It’s by Anita Moorjani. 

Now I’ve only read the very beginning of the book but I am trusting that it showed up today for a reason. Maybe that reason is you. To give you a sense of what Sensitive Is the New Strong is about, here’s a short bit from the introduction: 

The tools and suggestions I offer in this book are not the type of tips you may have read before. I’m not going to tell you how to build rock solid boundaries and shield yourself from others. This book isn’t about walls, barriers and protection. If we hide behind walls to protect ourselves, we’ll never go out into the world and shine our light. 

This book is about expansion, liberation and connection with your own divinity. It’s about speaking out, honouring yourself and loving yourself. It’s about embracing all that you are, chipping away at what you’re not about, undoing, not doing. Once you learn how to honour and develop your own gifts, I encourage you to get out there. Shine your empathic light. Take on leadershipr oles and become role models. 

That touches my heart. Perhaps it touches yours too. 

And before we go, really please remember also the wise words of poet Mary Oliver who says in her poem Wild Geese,  

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves. 

Love what you love this week, kind listener, and include in that loving yourself exactly as you. 

Thanks for hanging out with me today. I love being back on the podcast. I really appreciate everyone who let me know that you’re glad I’m back too. Scout is sitting here too. He’s one of the soft animals that I love. He’s sending along purrs and comfort too. I’ll see you in the next show. 

When You Make Something You Hate

I’m working on the painting above for a class. This photo was taken after my second pass at it. When I had finished my first pass, I took one look at it and thought ‘blech‘. I was ready to drop it, paint over it and use the board again. Then I realized something…

Hating the piece gave me permission to be reckless.

Suddenly I felt totally free. I couldn’t wreck this piece – it was already awful! I could do anything, try anything. I felt like a little kid with big messy markers who just wanted to go for it! Scribble, scribble! Glop, glop! If I was going to paint over it anyway, why not experiment? And that thought revealed the second gift of creating a piece you don’t like.

Let the unloved piece be your teacher.

The feeling of disliking our own work is so uncomfortable that we mostly want to just walk away. We want to forget we made anything so hideous! We’re afraid of what it means about us. We’re afraid it signals to ourselves and, now that it’s visible, to others that we’re not artists at all. We’ve been fooling ourselves. I mean… look at it!! Would an artist get it so completely wrong?!? The answer is yes. Artists get it wrong all the time and one piece is never the sum total of you. If you can calm your nervous system and not believe its hype, a piece you don’t like can be a tremendous teacher.

With this piece the turning point for me came when I showed the work to my sister Shannon, who I know to be a perfectly safe person to discuss my bad art with. I was able to talk out what I thought wasn’t working and find my way back in.

Here are some questions for when you don’t like a piece:

  • What specifically isn’t working?
  • What might be a resolution for that? (Bonus points if you try it!)
  • What do you like?
  • How can you build on that?

Give It Time

Sometimes we may need a break to really see our work. First, to soothe and remind ourselves that all is well and our artist’s life is not over because of this piece. Second, to give ourselves perspective. Artist Lynda Barry says it best, “There’s the drawing you are trying to make and the drawing that is actually being made – and you can’t see it until you forget what you are trying to do.” What would be different if you let the work be what it is?

Honour the Work

Honestly, I always feel uncomfortable when we generate ill will towards our work, like we’re berating a child for not living up to our expectations.* It also seems to me that it’s going to frighten away the next piece. I mean, who would want to arrive to that kind of reception?

I’m certainly not saying that you have to like all of your work. I sure don’t like all of mine, the above piece included. But I do believe that in order to move forward as an artist, to find our way and our work, we must respect each piece for what it is – maybe our teacher, maybe a step, maybe something whose value we are yet to discover.

Instead of chucking out your piece with despair, anger or frustration, ask yourself what creating it has contributed to your artistic journey, offer it your sincere gratitude and then go ahead and bin it!

(Note: This is originally from my Sunday  morning Letters from the Studio. Subscribe here if you want inspiration, Studio news and discounts!)