Journal with Let Art Inspire

Journaling can help us articulate our feelings, remember achievements and revelations, and hold ourselves accountable for our goals. In connection with our Let Art Inspire sessions, we invite you to take a moment of reflection. Journaling can take on many forms, including free-writing, making mind maps, and drawing. We encourage you to use the medium that you feel the most comfortable with. 

General Journaling Tips

  • Find a quiet and comfortable space to journal. Breathe. Inhale and exhale. Be aware of your own presence. Take a few moments to find calm in your mind and body. 
  • Write down the details of the session: date, time, location, environment, type of practice. 
  • Reflect on the feelings and thoughts you had during the artful session:
    • What was memorable about the session?
    • How concentrated were you during the session?
    • What was challenging during the session and how did you overcome it?
    • What made you feel at ease or at unease? 
  • Jot down the insights and or realizations:
    • What influenced your feelings and thoughts? (Consider external and or internal influences).
    • What do you think is something you can improve on if you plan to continue participating in wellness programs?
    • What are some of your takeaways from the session?

March: Let’s Be Present

Lorna Simpson, Cloudscape, 2004. Video, sound. Museum purchase by the Colby Museum Board of Governors in support of the New Media Arts Consortium, a collaboration of the art museums at Bowdoin College, Brandeis University, Colby College, Middlebury College, Mount Holyoke College, and Skidmore College Accession Number: 2019.038⁠

Being present in life

  • What does it mean to you to be present?
  • Complete these sentences and then keep writing: “The most important things to me right now are…” and “The least important things to me right now are…”
  • What helps you feel the most present?
  • Is there anything holding you back from being present at this moment? Make a list.

Being present in the self. 

  • Close your eyes, focusing on your five senses. Take a second to scan your body starting from your toes. Notice the feeling of the chair beneath you. If you are standing, notice the feeling of the floor beneath you. How do you feel?
  • Take a deep breath. Focus on the feeling of the breath moving throughout your body. Which areas of your body do you notice the most?
  • Take a second to observe your thoughts and emotions. What thoughts immediately come to mind? What observations do you notice about your thoughts?

Being present in the environment.

  • Close your eyes and focus on the sounds around you for 30 seconds. What do you hear? Are there any sounds in particular that stand out to you?
  • Close your eyes and focus on the odors you smell for the next 30 seconds. What do you smell? Are there any odors in particular that stand out to you?
  • Open your eyes and scan the environment around you. What objects stand out to you and why? If you’d like, take a moment to draw these objects.

February: Let’s Keep Going

Reggie Burrows Hodges, Hurdling: Green, 2020. Acrylic and pastel on linen. 66 x 56 in. (168 x 142 cm). Gift of the Alex Katz Foundation. Accession Number: 2021.008

Connecting with yourself

  • What values do you consider most important in life (e.g. justice, honesty, loyalty, etc.)? How do your actions align with them?
  • When do you trust yourself the most? When do you find it harder to trust your own instincts?
  • What do you appreciate most about your personality? What aspects do you find harder to accept?
  • List one or two significant life events or experiences that shaped who you are today.
  • Explain a belief you had in the past but have since questioned or changed. What led you to this change?

Connecting with others

  • Write down the names of people that have helped you grow, how they’ve helped you, and what you’re grateful for. You can start by listing one or two people and continue adding to the list.
  • Who are the people in your life that you would like to reconnect with? Why do you want to reconnect with them? What are some concrete steps you can take to reconnect with them?
  • Who are the people you’ve met recently and want to continue building a connection with? What are some concrete steps you can take to connect with them further?
  • What makes you feel uncomfortable in social situations? What are some actions you can take to resolve the discomfort?

Connecting with your surroundings.

  • Close your eyes and imagine being in nature. What does it look like? How do you feel?
  • What is your favorite place in your hometown? Describe the place using all your five senses.
  • List places you would like to revisit or have never been to and want to visit. Why do you want to visit these places?
  • List three ways you can make deeper connections with your current surroundings.

January: Let’s Reflect

Elizabeth Catlett, Sister, 1971. Green marble. 13 1/4 x 11 x 7 in. (34 x 28 x 18 cm). The Lunder Collection. Accession Number: 2019.432

Believing in yourself and taking a leap of faith

  • What are some of your fears? 
  • How have your fears limited you?
  • What are some concrete steps you can take to overcome your fears?
  • Describe in detail a time when you felt confident. What were you doing, and how did you feel?
  • Brainstorm three ways you can get outside of your comfort zone. It doesn’t have to be dramatic, it can be starting a conversation with a newly made friend.

Having patience and not giving up

  • Reflect on 2021 and write down personal accomplishments, reminding yourself that even small things matter. 
  • What are your goals for 2022 and how do they fit into the bigger picture of what you hope to achieve? 
  • Break down your goals into manageable, achievable steps. 

Finding your inner strength and stability

  • List three things in your life that you are grateful for and provide details about why. How have they impacted you physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually?
  • What are some stresses in your life? What are activities you can do to calm yourself?
  • Write down meaningful compliments you have received.

December: Let’s Rise Up

David Clyde Driskell, Blue Pines, 1959. Oil on canvas, 36 x 29 in. (91.4 x 73.7 cm). Gift from the Alex Katz Foundation and Museum purchase from the Jere Abbott Acquisitions Fund. Accession Number: 2017.388.

Where You Started

  • What is the most recent challenge you faced? What did you learn? What would you have done differently?
  • Complete this sentence and then keep writing: “I got where I am today because I am _____.”
  • Write a letter to yourself from five years ago. What would you tell yourself? What lessons have you learned? How have you grown?

How Far You’ve Come

  • Make a list. What are three things you have accomplished in the past year?
  • Take a moment to think of your inner strengths. Write down any three that make you who you are.
  • Complete this sentence and then keep writing: “I am proud of myself because ____”

Where You Are Going

  • What are three things you hope to accomplish within the next year? What do you need to accomplish these goals? What do you want the outcome to be?
  • Imagine the life of your dreams. Take a moment to close your eyes and picture yourself there right now. Where are you? What do you see? What do you hear?
  • Write a letter to yourself five years from now. What would you tell yourself? How do you imagine yourself in the future?

November: Let’s Breathe Love

Robert S. Duncanson, Vale of Kashmir, 1870 Oil on canvas 26 x 49 1/2 in. (66 x 126 cm) The Lunder Collection Accession Number: 2020.003


  • What are 3 ways that you can be more gentle with yourself?
  • Did you recently make a mistake and get upset with yourself? Moving forward, what can you say to yourself to replace beating yourself up with grace and self-compassion?
  • What helps you feel safe, held, and supported? How can you include this in your life when you feel stressed?
  • What is great in your life right now? What are you grateful for?

Compassion for Others

  • What expectations of others can you let go of?
  • Reflect on a time when you made a positive difference in someone’s life. What did this experience teach you about loving others? 
  • Reflect on a time you’ve had a personal conflict. How could you have put yourself in the other person’s shoes to understand where they were coming from?
  • Consider handwriting a personal note of gratitude to someone who has recently helped you. 

Compassion for your Community

  • What are some community issues or causes that you care about? Why are they important to you?
  • Is there anything you would like to do for the community? Are there any concrete steps you can take to serve your community?

October: Let’s Remember

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, I See Red: Flathead Vest, 1996 Mixed Media on canvas 60 x 50 in. (152 x 127 cm) Museum purchase from the Jere Abbott Acquisitions Fund Accession Number: 2018.015

Unlock and Honor the Past

  • Imagine traveling in a time machine back in time to your favorite memory. What do you remember? What do you see? Who is there? How do you feel?
  • Think back to a place in time where you felt the most liberated. Where were you? What were you doing? Draw or sketch an image of this place.

Challenge and Reflect on External Perceptions

  • What are some stereotypes you believe others hold about you? How do these stereotypes make you feel?
  • How do stereotypes impact the way you view yourself? How about others?
  • Look at your reflection and imagine you are seeing yourself as a stranger. What do you think of the person who looks back at you? Beyond the physical, what can you observe about who the person is?

Honor Identity and Heritage

  • Do you have any unique attributes, traits, talents, characteristics, skills, experiences, or backgrounds? Make a list and read it back to yourself.
  • If you could describe who you are in three images, what would they be? Sketch, draw, or describe them in words.
  • What is one tradition you, your family, or friends have? Why is this tradition important to you?