Journaling with Photos

One of the most beautiful places in Phoenix is the Desert Botanical Garden. I’m a member, and love visiting the garden because there is always something happening–an art exhibit, a butterfly house, or the amazing Chihuly sculptures they displayed in 2009.

Chihuly's glass flames dance in the light of the night garden at the DBG in Phoenix.

When I’m wandering through the garden, I often take photos–to print out for my journal, to print onto cloth and sew onto a postcard, or just look at on my iPhone. A friend sent me some photos from the garden today, and I wrote some fast journal ideas. Maybe this is an idea you can use, too.

Here’s how I do it: I transfer the photos to my Flickr site, mark them “Private” and then add some notes I want to think about. The notes are really short, memory jogs for longer posts I can create. Then, I give myself permission to forget about them. In a week or so, when I go back, I peek at some older ideas. Sometimes the ideas don’t have a spark anymore, and I can delete them. Sometimes I get excited about a small idea and want to make it into something much bigger. Here are some examples, using the photos a friend sent me today.

This butterfly is so adapted to his surroundings, that he looks like a wilted flower. Sometimes looking like a wilted flower is a big advantage–it keeps you from getting eaten by a predator. Adaptation can be useful. If you do it to often, though, you may begin to think that blending in the only way to avoid risk. And it’s not.

I’m always amazed at how the thorniest, toughest plants have the most colorful, dainty, delicate flowers. It’s such a contrast. I know people like that, too–filled with contrasts. If I keep trying to label them one thing or another, I’ll never know them. If I accept all they are, I might enjoy certain parts of their character more.

This butterfly does not eat orange slices by nature. But in this environment, the slices provide both food and water to the butterfly. Making use of what is in front of you instead of spending a lot of energy doing what you’ve always done is a way to thrive instead of survive. (I’m also impressed by the camouflage.)

The obvious star pattern is caused by the less obvious light in the center. Sometimes the shadow of the light is more interesting than the light itself. Your shadow self, the darker side of you, often considered the “bad” part of you, teaches lessons the lighter side of you cannot. The shadow doesn’t always have to be ugly. There is beauty in both the shadow and the light. In this case, both at the same time.

It’s a great way to spark some deep, meaningful journaling.

Photos: Chihuly glass and light/shadow: © Quinn McDonald. Butterflies and cactus: © Rosaland Hannibal. All rights reserved. 2011.