Long time no journaling

Gosh, it’s been such a long time since I was here and since I’d journaled. It sounds like a boring cliché, but I was busy.

Before I tell you about what’s been keeping me so busy, let me start by sharing the journal page I finally got to do last night. I’ll post some process photos too.

Except for a scribble and a doodle here and there, I hadn’t journaled much, so it felt a little uncomfortable at first. I had no idea what to journal about. Where to start? The past months a lot of collage work passed by on my timelines and they’d left an itch, so it had to be something with collage. I dragged out my drawer with clippings and scraps of painted paper, took a set of watercolor paint and simply sat down. The first ten minutes were restless, but as always when I show up and simply start rummaging through my supplies, when I stick to it, eventually something comes up. The fish came up first….then the lines and then the thinking stopped and this began to happen:


Fish - Art Journal page by Mandy van Goeije


Process photos


Yesterday I once again became very much aware of how important it is to show up to journal. In fact, showing up and allowing the process to happen, is way more important than the end result. And I’m not just saying that as an advocate of journaling. You see, I’ve been so busy lately that when I woke up in the morning, it felt as I’d been dragged from the underworld. I was so, so tired. I tried to take good care of myself, but nothing really worked. Then yesterday I finally sat down to journal and guess what?! This morning I finally really woke up feeling as if I was waking up. I didn’t feel dragged out of nowhere…I felt good and ready to start the day. That was no coincidence. It was a good reminder of how important it is for me (and probably for you too) to take the time to journal. It helps me rest and relax on a very deep level that I can’t achieve in any other way. Storytelling is not just a tool from the teller to the outside world. A journal is a channel through which the storyteller can tell him- or herself their own story, which is calling out to be heard. The journaling teacher had just forgotten her own teachings and ignored her screaming stories for a bit… Practise what you preach, eh? *cough*


The Fish

So, as I write in the first paragraph it was the fish that came up first. I think they were on scraps of gift wrap paper. They immediately whispered ‘subconscious’ to me and for some reason this theme got me hooked, so put them aside and gave the spread a blue background.

Fish - stage 1 - background - Art Journal page by Mandy van Goeije:


Time to think

When the theme was fixed, I needed time to think, Inspired by the colorful collages I’d seen lately, I decided to go for a border involving a lot of gold, black and neon pink (too bad the scanner won’t show the neon here, it really pops and I love it!). A simple, decorative job like this creates time and space in my mind to ponder on the theme…or to just see if anything comes up. Because at this time I still really have no clue what direction this page will be going. In other words: a story from within has announced itself and I’m getting ready to sit down and listen.


Fish - stage 2 - background + border - Art Journal page by Mandy van Goeije:



By the time the spread had a colorful border, I had put together the story of this theme. I think at this stage it is often about becoming aware of why this theme got to mind when rummaging the clippings or preparing a journal page. When a theme comes up, usually there’s  a story deep down inside waiting to be heard. Something you may not be acutely aware of during the day, but when you make a little time and space, it’s hoping for you to sit down and listen. These fish were in the water for me, hence the blue page. And because water symbolically represents the subconscious, it felt as if there were more at home in it than I am and the thought made me uneasy. Which is when I found the monkey, the thermometers, the face and the odd gate-like piece of scrap paper. And somehow they began to ring bells and form a story… So this next photo is not about composition. It’s about composing and how the story gradually forms when you let it happen.


Fish - stage 3 - composition - Art Journal page by Mandy van Goeije:


The story comes full circle


As the elements of this page gradually found their place on this spread, the words came. They’re poetic words rather than me having really had this dream about these fish. But it’s an image of something I’ve felt in the past few weeks of being so busy that I lost touch with myself a bit that became visible in the translation of this feeling into these lines:

Last night I dreamt
of fish who could better swim
the deeps of my unconscious
than myself
a frightening dream
with all the deep pools
I carry in me…


Fish - stage 4 - adding words- Art Journal page by Mandy van Goeije:


What my page is telling me


The reason I believe journaling is so important, is not just because it’s fun to do or to make pretty images. Journaling is most valuable because it can help us listen to whatever that little wise voice inside of us has been trying to tell us for so long. I had been so busy that I had totally failed to hear it. The consequences of which were that I slept really bad and that I grew more and more tired – a kind of fatigue that can’t be slept off. Showing up for my journal last night was actually sitting down to listen. To practise what I’ve been preaching for so long…to listen to your inner self…to make room for it. So what my page and the process of making it tell me, is way more important than how pretty the end result is.

This page is telling me that in all my hard work I must not forget to take care of that inner self or otherwise the deep pools of my subconscious can be waters I can drown in.


What I had gotten lost in…


So, what’s been keeping me so busy that I forgot to listen in? Well, I’ve set up a Dutch website “De Betekenis” , which literally translated means: The Meaning. But what’s really fun, is that I like to spell it ‘de beTekenis’. “Teken” means ‘sign’. And a letter is also a ‘teken’, But ‘teken’ also means ‘to draw’ (as in art). So there we’re getting full circle with the name I chose for my website, because what I want it to be about is about finding and giving meaning by the aids of words and visual language.




I very much wanted a Dutch site for my LIVE courses and to make deeper stuff better accessible for the Dutch. Most of us speak English well, but sometimes people miss subtleties that I feel are important. The site will have a slightly different focus than this website and blog, which will be about my art mostly. But at the same time future courses I’m working on will definitely have a chapter ‘Meaning’ in them relating to the topics I’m working on for ‘de beTekenis’.

The website kicked off with a month of reflection for the month of November. So every day I post a prompt to reflect on and listen to your inner voice. Since the dark days have come on this hemisphere the overall theme is ‘Light and darkness’. The blog is in Dutch, of course, but if you like, you can take a look. I haven’t tried yet, but who knows what google translate will do. I’m sticking to a Dutch-only version this year, but if you’re interested in an English version, let me know. I might be able to pop in a translation next year…