There is something that happens when I teach. I see this light turn on when my students have the art supplies in front of them. The excitement is what makes this so rewarding for me.

Photo by Margaret Alvarez

I attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, Texas. It was there I learned how to use an art journal. If you were in the visual art department, they required you to carry one and it was graded. I struggled with my art journal; I wasn’t sure how to use it. I saw others with beautifully filled journals, but I felt that I didn’t have much to say. As I got older that would change. I was gaining new experiences and growing, and I started to consistently use my art journal to reflect on my growth. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would be carrying this art journal for the rest of my life.

Photo by Margaret Alvarez

Art journaling reflects who I am. It is a record of my development and my experiences. As an adult I’ve learned to use it as an outlet. For the past six years a reoccurring theme in my art journal has been GRATITUDE. This brought to life the idea of teaching others to start a “Creative Gratitude Practice”. This gratitude practice would also include exploring art materials, art techniques, collage and writing. I felt so strongly that without this gratitude practice I created, I would have nothing. If I could have this safe space to record all my blessings and reflect on the life, I am grateful for, why couldn’t I share these ideas with others? Once I came to this conclusion, I knew it was time. 

This happened during a very interesting period. It felt like divine timing! The pandemic started and I was working from home for five months. I needed my art journal more than ever. It was helping me put everything that was happening into perspective. So, I started sharing my ideas on social media, and brought “My Artsy Coach” to life. I would coach people on using creativity as self-care, mainly using an art journal as a gratitude journal, combined. Art journaling is something I am very passionate about, so it seemed like a great place to start. I began by creating a website, social media accounts and I invited people to try out my Art Journaling workshops for free. I wanted to dig in and share how truly helpful this practice was. 

Photo by Margaret Alvarez

After teaching several online workshops I was introduced to Kristi Nelson’s book, Wake Up Grateful, by one of my students. She thought I would really enjoy it, since my focus is gratitude. 

I was blown away by the ideas in this book. I found so many things that I related to. I knew I wanted to make this book a part of my journey, so I started by creating a “5-day Gratitude Challenge” on YouTube. The challenge was based on the five guiding principles in the book. Each day of the challenge would include a discussion about each of the principles, doing a related activity and then a reflection, by doing art journaling prompts. 

Photo by Margaret Alvarez

There are many things I now do to share my ideas. I’ve taught myself how to create and edit videos, reach out to people in need and I speak my truth. I do this by sharing how gratitude has changed my life. I realize some people are afraid to be creative. They don’t know what to do when faced with art supplies and blank pages. I think this is the reason my work is so important. People who want to be creative but don’t know where to begin are in need of coaching, and I wanted to be there to guide them. I want to provide the tools to help people create a shift in perspective, embrace something new and channel good energy, especially during difficult times. What better way than GRATITUDE!  

There is something that happens when I teach. I see this light turn on when my students have the art supplies in front of them. The excitement is what makes this so rewarding for me. I love art and I love teaching so much. I feel very fortunate that I get to do this job for a living and now I also get to share why my Creative Gratitude Practice is so important to me. It has been such a gift.

5-Day Gratitude Challenge: Invitation to Practice

In the short videos linked below, I offer a fun 5-day practice focused on the five guiding principles of grateful living, as written by Kristi Nelson in Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted. Each day offers a brief reflection on the principle and a guided creative exploration.

Day 1: Life is a Gift

Day 2: Everything is Surprise

Day 3: The Ordinary is Extraordinary

Day 4: Appreciation is Generative

Day 5: Love is Transformative

Appreciation is Generative Everything is Surprise Life is a Gift Love is Transformative The Ordinary is Extraordinary