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Celebration Journaling 

Hi Everyone,

I really appreciate the enthusiastic response to last week's blog "Joanne's Journals". For those of you who inquired about the Moleskin journal with the pre-printed boxes, they are called 'Art plus Storyboard Notebooks', and are available in two sizes: 3.5" x 5.5" and 5" x 8.25". If you would like to buy them on Amazon, here are the links: 

Since there were so many enthusiastic comments about my meditative journals, I will work on planning a Zenspirations® Guided Journal project for everyone who expressed interest. It may take a little time, because I need to finish the last few pages of my Kickstarter book (When You Lose Someone You Love) before tackling another project. Since I'm not sure about the timeframe, if you are interested please send an e-mail with the subject line Zenspirations® Guided Journal Project to me at, and I'll let you know when I have the first project ready. In the meantime, I hope you'll do some meditative journaling on your own.

Tonight I wanted to share another type of journaling that I really enjoy; I call it 'Celebration Journaling'. It's my way of helping celebrate and commemorate special occasions. Unlike my meditative journals, my Celebration Journals are usually quite colorful. 

After I letter a celebratory message, I photograph it and either e-mail it to the person I made it for, or post it on their Facebook wall. 

I made the piece below to help my friend Peggy Whalen celebrate her birthday last year. I wrote in one of Strathmore's ArtAgain black journals using Sakura's awesome Metallic and Moonlight Gelly Roll pens.

Sometimes instead of Celebration Journal Pages, I create Celebratory Messages such as the ones below, which I made for my friend Greg Minuskin. Greg is a world reknowned pen-man, who specializes in restoring and re-tipping fountain pens for the calligraphic and collector communities, so I decided to add a pen into his birthday greeting.

The next design I created for my cousin to give to her roommate... which gave me the idea of what to write about this week (thanks, Ashley!). I used a frame I drew when I first started doing Zenspirations a few years ago, and added the text digitally. 

Celebration journaling and messaging is a great way of connecting with those you love, and even if you aren't a lettering artist it's fun to create custom messages for friends and family. Something I've been having a lot of fun with recently is Instagram. I have been enjoying looking at all the colorful and creative images that people post. The 'Happy 1st Day of Spring' message was my Friday morning journal entry, created specifically to share with my Instagram friends. I liked it so much I decided to share it with my blog followers, too.

Below is what I posted on Instagram. I'm finding it challenging to work within the square format that all Instagram photos are cropped to... but I'm starting to learn what works. My Instagram name is Zenspirations: If you are on Instagram too, let's connect!

Before signing off this week, I want to thank everyone who took the time to share their favorite scripture verses... I'm planning to base some of the designs on the ones which get the most requests... which leads me to an apology and another request. The apology is  because I forgot to ask a VERY important question-- which bible version do you use? NIV, ESV, King James, something else? And the request is-- if you are interested in having me use one (or more!) of your favorite scriptures as part of my new line of notecards, it would be REALLY helpful if would you please write out the exact wording (with punctuation and reference) of each scripture you'd like me to consider. It doesn't have to be five... just share the ones you really love (could be two, could be ten).

In terms of the giveaway, I will still draw a name from those who commented last week, and will draw a second name from those who leave a comment this week. This week's prize will be a box of the scripture notecards (once they are printed) and a personalized Celebratory Message of your choice-- it can be for you or someone you love. 

So thank you in advance for sharing your favorite scriptures... and you can still win this week's prize even if you didn't leave a comment last week.

Stay Zenspired,



Joanne's Journals

Hi Everyone,

Tonight I wanted to share something I've been doing which really helps me stay grounded in gratitude: meditative journaling. Sometimes my journal pages later become a greeting card, coloring book page or even a blog post… but that isn't my intention when I pick up a pen to start and end my day. Meditative journaling allows me to express what's in my heart, and has become an important part of they way I pray. Below is a photo of some of the journals I've filled this year.

I usually have two or more journals going at all times. I keep a small one where I'll see it when I get up in the morning, and I keep a larger one, which I call my 'walk-around' journal, in my pocketbook. 

In the morning I try to begin the day with a meditative journal prayer of gratitude. Some days this comes out in words, other days I'm better able to express thankfulness in a drawing. The photo below is of my current journal, and shows four days of morning journaling. It's a type of Moleskin (my favorite brand of journal!) that I've never used before, which has pre-printed boxes; I'm really enjoying the structure they provide. 

In the evening I try to listen to the 'still, small voice', and then just write and draw whatever comes to mind. Often times it will be something for or about someone who is in my heart, like the piece below.

I strive to write in a way that embodies the Zenspirations® tag line: Live by inspiring others to fly.

If you haven't ever journaled before I'd encourage you to take a few minutes a day and put pen to paper... you can write, you can letter, you can draw-- or do a combination the way I do. Your journal entries don't have to be 'finished' or 'polished'... mine often aren't. But I get great joy from the interaction of ink on paper, and have come to know myself better as a result of pouring my thoughts and doodles onto the pages of my journals. 

And I've come to know some of you better as a result of the survey from last week's blog! My heartfelt thanks to everyone who took the time to share your thoughts. I greatly appreciate your help, and will be guided by your preferences as much as possible. I thought you’d be interested in hearing the results.

39 people prefer a box with 2 each of 5 designs; 21 prefer a box with 1 each of 10 designs.

41 people prefer words in the stones; 13 people prefer phrases (the rest would be happy with either)

35 people prefer verbs; 9 people prefer nouns (the rest either didn’t answer or didn’t express a preference)

In terms of themes, here is the breakdown:

46 inspirational

31 scripture

29 trees

27 music

22 patterns

4 yoga

So in addition to finishing the ‘Written in Stone’ and ‘Love Lines’ series, I plan to work on ‘Zenspirational’, Scripture, Trees & Music themed sets, and will let you know when they are available.

When I wrote the survey I didn’t realize that due to catalogue concerns, the boxes must have 10 different notecards… but since there was obviously greater interest in 2 sets of 5 designs, I’ve decided to create 5 designs for each series, and offer each one in two color ways. Hopefully that will make everyone happy!

After I tabulated the results, I got to do the fun part—pick the winner! I put all the names in a box, covered my eyes and drew one at random…


So congratulations Sherill Patton! I took the liberty of hand-lettering your name for tonight’s blog post, but would be happy to do it again in your favorite color when the notecards are printed and I’m able to ship your package. Please let me know where to send it. You can e-mail me at   

And now, since I found the survey answers so helpful, I'm going to ask more questions!

1. For those of you who are interested in scripture notecards, what five scriptures would you like to see me use?

2. If you don't have a set of favorite scriptures, I'd welcome your suggestions on the theme you are most interested in.

3. I'd love to know your thoughts on my meditative journals...

A. Would you like to see more of my journal pages?

B. Would you be interested in a guided Zenspiration(R) journal project?

C. If so, would you like me to suggest a theme for the month?

D. Would you like me to provide examples of how I've written & illustrated that theme to give you a jump-start?

Once again, as a thank you for taking the time to leave a comment with this information, I'm going to do another give-away. The prize will be a set of the notecards once they are printed-- you can pick scripture or one of the other themes. Plus I'll hand-letter your name in your favorite color. And, since this week's blog is about journaling, the big prize will be a journal which will include a page that I'll do to help inspire you. I'll select the winner from among those who leave a comment, so thank you in advance for sharing... I am deeply grateful.

Stay Zenspired,



Written in Stone

Hi Everyone,

There are so many things I want to share tonight! First of all, for those who are in Central Florida, I just found out that there are a few spaces left in the two workshops (Zenspiration® Dangle Designs at 11:00, and Zenspirations Creative Coloring Techniques at 3:30) I’ll be giving this Friday, March 13th, at She Scrapbooks, 918 Bichara Boulevard, The Villages, Florida 32159. For more information, or to register, call 352-259-6226. I'd love to see you there!


I’ve been asked to design several sets of notecards, each of which will have 10 related designs in a package, for a line launching this spring. I wanted to share two of the different concepts I've been working on. The first series is called 'Written in Stone', and will have either words or short phrases superimposed onto select stones.

The working title for the next series is 'Love Lines', and regular Zenspirations(R) blog readers will probably recognize this as a take off on the 'Rooted in Love' look. The scrolly line which forms the word also divides the page. To add visual interest, I'm planning to use a different color/pattern treatment above and below the 'Love Line'.

I've had a great time experimenting with different color techniques for the series. Here are a couple of close-ups from 'Written in Stone': 



And here are a couple of close-ups from the 'Love Line' series:


It’s always helpful during this phase of a project, to get input and advice… and you have been so generous with your comments and suggestions, that I’d appreciate your help once again. As an incentive, I will put the names of everyone who answers the questions into a box, will pull someone’s name at random, and send them their choice of one of the new notecard sets as soon as they are available. As a bonus, I will hand-letter a name in whatever color you choose, and send that along with the notecards! I'm hoping that will inspire you to take a few minutes to answer these questions for me: 

1. If you were buying a box of notecards, would you rather have 2 each of 5 designs, or 1 each of 10 designs?

2. In the ‘Written in Stone’ series, would you prefer to see words or phrases (see examples above) written in the stones?

3. In the 'Love Lines' series, would you prefer

  A: 10 verbs (i.e. dream, believe, imagine, inspire, sing, dance, create, transform, smile, love)

  B: 10 nouns (i.e. joy, peace, gratitude, delight, harmony, cheer, serenity, prosperity, compassion, happiness)

  C: 10 words on one theme (i.e. LIGHT-- illuminate, kindle, spark, flame, blaze, illumine, glow, shine, enlighten, ignite)

     D: 10 of the same word (i.e. Love): Please share what word you would prefer _____.

4. For the remaining series, which of the following themes would interest you (pick as many as you like):

     A. Scripture

  B. Inspirational words

  C. Trees

  D. Music

  E. Yoga

  F. Patterns (no text)

  G. Something else (please specify!) ____

I feel very blessed to have a built-in community of people to ask about this… in addition to answering the questions, let me know if you have any ideas for this new line. Feel free to suggest specific words or phrases that you'd like to see me use... thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts! 

And since sharing is a deep act of love, I'll close with three variations on the love theme.

Stay Zenspired,


PS Heartfelt thanks to everyone who commented on the tree variations from last week’s blog. There were some great suggestions, and I’m planning to try some additional variations next time I take a ‘play day’.



A Colorful Experiment

Hi Everyone,

I wanted to share a project I spent much of this past week working on... it's a Ketubah (Jewish Wedding Contract) design for friends who are getting married this weekend. Their vows will be printed in the circular area in the center of the sun.

As part of design process I experimented with a lot of different color alternatives. Below is the same design with a fanciful rainbow trunk instead of the more subdued brown one. It totally changes the mood, doesn't it?

Then I decided to try layering color, and was astonished at how much the version below resembled the cherry blossom trees which will be in bloom later this month. Being astonished made me think of a saying I had written in my journal last year "Be totally astonishing at least once a day... it is fabulous for your soul", so I scanned it, cleaned it up, and placed it into the design.

But then the color also made me think of my favorite scripture "With God All Things Are Possible", and I decided to see what the piece would look like with Matthew 19:26 in the sun. Since I wanted the text to be the focal point, I simplified the design by using a brown trunk with no dangle elements, and I added an outline to the sun so it would frame the text.

I plan to continue experimenting with color variations, and would love to know which version is your favorite. To make it easy to do a comparison, here are three of the versions lined up:

I'd welcome your suggestions for different things to try... and will post the results of future experiments sometime next month. 

Wishing you a creative and colorful day!

Stay Zenspired,




Hi Everyone,

Those of you who have been reading the Zenspirations® blog for a while may remember that in October I launched my first-ever Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to self-publish, “When You Lose Someone You Love”, an illustrated book of excerpts from the grief journals I kept after my husband died unexpectedly three and a half years ago. The pages of the book I'm about to self-publish all started in one of my grief journals... expressing my feelings by putting pen to paper was both cathartic and healing... and something I continue to do. The photo below shows some of the journals I kept. I wrote all the text with my favorite tool-- a Pigma Micron 01-- in a series of Moleskin Reporter's notebooks. 

I've started to get inquiries about when the book will be available, and as I'm nearing the end of the redesign process, I wanted to share a progress report. Much to my regret, it has taken me significantly longer than I had originally anticipated to make these changes, which has delayed my being able to send the book off to press. One reason it has taken longer than I thought it would, is that in addition to adding color I have also been tweaking most of the pages... sometimes I've made changes to the layout, sometimes I've cleaned up (or totally redone) the lettering; occassionally I've combined the text from multiple pages onto a single spread. On several pages that were originally text-only I added an illustration to enhance the design. 

I'd like to share how the pages of my grief journals have evolved into the pages of When You Lose Someone You Love. For example, in the photo below you'll see the original unretouched drawing in my grief journal on the bottom, and a comp of the final design on top.

As another example, below is a photo of the unretouched lettering from my journal.

And here is the final design with digitally cleaned up lettering... although it looks simple, it took several hours to adjust the letters on this spread.

The next page of the book, which I consider pivotal, provides a good example of how I tweaked the lettering and added an illustration to enhance the design. It's after this page that the book starts to get a little more hopeful. The top piece is a photo of my original, unretouched journal, followed by the final version of that page.


I'd also like to share the evolution of one of the spreads at the back of the book where I added color. I have names for most of the spreads, and I call this one "Life's Journey". The image below is a photo of my unretouched journal.

As you can see, the illustration is kind of messy, so I scanned my journal, and then cleaned up the line art digitally to get the design below. I made a deliberate decision not to include the leaves on most of the trees, in order to underscore the bleak mood I was trying to convey.

When I set the stretch goal to add color, I was thinking about this spread in particular, because I wanted to visually show the themes of transition and hope, and I thought color would be a good way to do achieve that. I knew I wanted to incorporate a washy edge into the illustration, and tried at least a dozen different techniques before coming up with something I thought had possibilities.


But in the end, I decided that I should depict the world as being grey before the transition, and then add soft color which would gradually become more vibrant to help underscore the transition in my life's journey.


I left the star out of this version, but am wondering whether it would be a stronger spread with the star. I would greatly value your feedback on this, and would appreciate your leaving me a comment to let me know if you'd like to see the star, or if you like the page the way it is. Feel free to share your thoughts on any other aspect of the book. I'm in the middle of doing the final production, but can still make changes before I send the book to press.

For those of you who backed my Kickstarter-- THANK YOU!!! I truly appreciate your support (and your patience!) and am hoping the book will touch your heart. And for those of you who are new to the blog and didn't get a chance to back the Kickstarter, the books will be for sale on my website (as soon as I redo it!).

Stay Zenspired,