Prompts for a Wabi-Sabi Journal

Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic that values the time-worn, the aged, the imperfect. It is a philosophy and a way of accepting and giving up control. Bringing wabi-sabi into your life allows you to make room for daydreams, for accepting a simpler life and for valuing the riches already in your life.

Pollen dust form a leaf shape as it gathers in sprinkler run-off.

A wabi sabi journal is one filled with authentic you, the one that hungers for simplicity, nature, the organic flow of life. Here are a few quotes to help you open your mind to Wabi-Sabi. They make great journal prompts.

You are the person you are when no one is looking.

Anger is only one letter short of danger.

No one can give you abilities. For example, an Olympic athlete works with a trainer to develop her abilities, but the trainer only helps manifest what was inherent all along. Likewise, no one can give you happiness. At most, others simply help manifest the joy that was always within you.

Happiness does not mean ‘absence of problems.’ There has never been a life free from problems. It is not the presence of problems, but how we tackle them that determines the quality of our lives.

A yellow dividing line wears away on a bike trail.

Blind faith is no faith

One does not win by making others lose.

–All quotes from “Open Your Mind, Open Your Life.” edited by Taro Gold

–Image from Still in the Stream, a site reflecting on Wabi-Sabi in nature.

-Quinn McDonald teaches “Wabi-Sabi Art Journaling” and is presently updating the course. She’s thinking about making ink from ashes of burned hope.


12 thoughts on “Prompts for a Wabi-Sabi Journal

  1. Some time ago I got a Hallmark book.. on Living Wabi Sabi.. I thought it a wonderful way to think…It has helped me with self criticism, Made my endeavors more fun..

  2. I never heard about wabi-sabi and made a little research about it as I find it very fascinating. There are a few books on the subject. Is there one you would particularly recommend? Thank you for your always inspiring posts!

    • “Wabi Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers” by Leonard Koren is a good book. So is Powell’s “Wabi Sabi for Writers.” A simpler one and lovely to read is “Living Wabi Sabi” by Taro Gold. I think you might enjoy those.

  3. I asked a Japanese colleague about wabi-sabi; he was familiar with it (although I pronounced it WAY wrong) and said it’s hard to explain but he thinks “simple” is pretty close, but the words are not always used together. I asked him how Tokyo Flash watches (like the one he wears) rate and he pointed out that wabi sabi is not the ONLY esthetic value in Japan! You have to google Tokyo Flash watches to see…he has a Tenmetsu.

    • I looked them up. OMG, it would take me too long to figure out the time on the Tenmetsu, but ohhh that Kisai Seven. That’s one cool watch. But no, not wabi sabi, even if it is simple.

  4. Are the ashes from your ‘not complete’ quilt? Just wondering. I keep thinking of that post of yours, though I didn’t comment on it. Hope your day is good!

    • I haven’ done anything with the quilt (yet), largely because I have not yet picked it up, but yes, I was thinking how using the ashes to create a handmade journal would be a very interesting way to finish the circle of incompletion and desire for something that can’t exist.

  5. Excellent post! I was first struck by how much the picture of the pollen dust reminded me of your “The Map of the Idea I Had Last Week”…and I love Wabi Sabi because I tend to be a perfectionist so it is very good for me to accept flaws and see how they make beauty more beautiful, make something unique. “Ink from the ashes of burned hope”—exquisite. Simply exquisite. Fascinating. As someone who loves to write, these words are so poetic. And I would love to write with such ink! Reminded me of a watercolorist I saw – he was visiting another country and wanted to paint a Fire Goddess they believe in. He dipped his brush in a mud puddle and used that water, mixed with the very red earth to paint her. She had a color and quality that paint could not have produced…

  6. If you have a recipe for making ink from the burned ashes – could you pass it on to me please? I feel very ‘wabi’ today – or ‘sabi’ maybe… meaning, I feel worn out but don’t value it much at the moment. I will try to turn that around today. Your post could be the kick under my but I needed, so: thank you!

    • I actually don’t have a successful method yet. I will probably do a mix of ashes in gloss medium (or matte medium) and dilute it with water. But I have to do a lot more research first. When I’ve figured it out, it will be a blog post.

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