Soul Restoration: The Importance of Art Journaling

Reported by Taylor Usry

When the first Soul Restoration class was announced earlier in the winter, it seemed like the most exciting thing in the word to  me. I love art journaling, I love the Brave Girls Club, and I love e-courses. What could be better than a combination of the three? Plus, 2010 was a tough year for me personally. Soul Restoration appeared to be just the right thing to get 2011 started off right. And thanks to the wonderful ladies over at the Brave Girls Club who allowed some little birdies to whisper in their ears, I was a lucky recipient of free tuition to the first ever Soul Restoration class. Today I’m going to share a little bit about my experience, and why I think it is worth it for everyone to do something like this (or at least do some art journaling!).

I’ll begin with a little about the Brave Girls Club. It was started by two sisters, Melody Ross and Kathy Wilkins in 2009. In their words, Brave Girls Club is “a community for women everywhere who want to do big things with their lives, who want to overcome difficult things, and who believe in doing all of this with love and kindness and as joyfully as possible.” And if you ask them why they do this, they have a beautifully worded, multi-part answer. Together they also host several retreats each year (all sold out for 2011, already!) and are about to open the first Brave Girl Clubhouse.

The introduction of Soul Restoration marked the first time that the ideas and curriculum shared at the popular Brave Girls Camp sessions would be available to women everywhere, to go through at their own speed, in the comfort of their own home. The 6-week class curriculum was designed by Melody, and she does all of the fabulous instructional videos. According to the information page, the workshop is

… a method of helping you become reacquainted with your deepest self through remembering and reuniting with your inner ‘Truth-Teller’. You will be helped to discern truth from lies…lies that can be holding you back and making you feel less than who you really are…to remember your dreams, your potential, your gifts and talents, all the possibilities and unique answers for your life (because it is different for each of us).” 

They had me at hello. 

As with any first-run of a project, Soul Restoration was not without its glitches. Lessons were available via secure .pdf links, and sometimes those didn’t want to work. Occasionally Melody’s fabulous videos didn’t want to play for people. And often, participants felt overwhelmed by what was going on – I know I did. It’s a big commitment to take a step back from life and focus on yourself for awhile.  Allowing yourself to acknowledge that you are worthy of time and effort can be a struggle for people! Through all of the issues, whether technical or personal, Melody, Kathy, and the Brave Girls team were right there to hold hands, fix links, extend time periods for lessons, and encourage (and encourage, and encourage). I’ve taken more than my fair share of e-courses, and I’ve never had so much hands-on interaction with teachers. There is a “Red Carpet” forum for participants in the Soul Restoration class to come together, share ideas, ask each other questions, vent frustrations…anything that is on your mind. 

The class set up is simple – each week for six weeks (on Tuesdays) a new lesson is posted on the website (note – make sure your printer ink has been recently refilled). Week One was a doozy – there were two lessons. They were important, though! The .pdf printouts outlined the week for you, gave you your assignments, and added some very helpful thoughts to remember about each lesson. And because Melody is awesome like that, she also included downloads for printable vintage scanned art to use in projects (if you wanted to).

The first thing we did in class was create a small journal of our “house”….which is how they refer to your soul. Because the initial version of Soul Restoration offered an add-on kit that came with a cute denim journal (I do not think they are offering that kit with the next course) I chose to re-purpose a pair of my husband’s jeans that had seen better days. I cut four pieces an sewed them around thick pieces of chipboard, to create my front and back covers. On the front cover I also sewed on a pocket, so I could slip some small things in there (only I know what those things are). I printed out the “closed for restoration” art on plain white cardstock, wrinkled it, mod podged it, and hand-stitched it on. The flowers and the tassels we a fun last minute decision. My book is held together with large, 3″ loose leaf rings (not pictured) that have strips of denim and ribbon on them. The whole process took a couple of hours, and while I worked on it I watched some of the class videos, sipped my hot tea, and focused on myself. It was a fantastic afternoon!

That first afternoon I also made the title page for my journal, and worked on the first actual page, my Soul House. Throughout the rest of the course I learned about my Truthteller, made Truth Cards and a Truth Book, created a timeline of our lives (who knew I remembered that much from way back when???),  and journaled my heart out. I learned about my path, and where I truly wanted it to go. And I picked up more than a few fun crafty tips along the way. My pages are very personal for me, and unlike others I’m just not brave enough to share them (yet) – so you only get to see my cover and title page.

On average, I spent about 5 hours a week on my Soul Restoration work – some weeks more, some weeks fewer. It helps to be able to devote all that time in one big chunk, but the beauty of the class is that if you can’t, it’s ok. I have two little children and I work from home. So some days, it was 30 minutes of watching a video and taking some notes, and then waiting a couple of days to do my art project. Additionally, there were times when I just plain old didn’t feel like being overly artsy about a lesson – I wanted plain and simple. That’s fine too. You don’t have to be an artist to participate in Soul Restoration. You just have to like being crafty (don’t we all like being crafty?). I got stuck a few times, worrying about painful things I didn’t necessarily want to deal with. But when I went over to the forums, I found an amazing truth – I was not alone in that feeling. Being able to lean on other participants was an invaluable resource in this class. 

I’m sure you are wondering why this course is so wonderful, and why I can’t recommend it highly enough to everyone. This whole course is about giving every person the tools they need to re-focus their lives in a positive direction. It’s about bringing joy into your life, and finding the tools you need to keep it there. It doesn’t mean that you can only take it if your life was miserable beforehand, or if you feel depressed, or if you want to make some changes. You should take it even if you don’t feel that way. It’s not an admission of right or wrong, or bad or good. There is NO way you won’t learn some things about yourself during the six weeks you spend with Melody and your fellow classmates.

I encourage you to check out the FAQs page on the Soul Restoration website and watch the videos below! Another session of Soul Restoration starts on April 5th, and I enjoyed the first session SO much I am retaking it (the Brave Girls were kind enough to extend a special price to those of us who went through it on the first run). Yes, it’s the same content….I just so enjoyed my personal journey, and there are places and spaces in my  “house” I wanted to spend more time in. When I’m done I absolutely plan to take Part 2!

And before I go, I’d like to add a note about art journaling. If you can’t afford to take the Soul Restoration class, or if now just isn’t the right time for you, I highly recommend the process of art journaling. It is truly good for your soul! Take a look at some of our articles about art journaling, grab some supplies you have around the house, and just start. Devote a little bit of time to just you, your thoughts, your dreams, your happiness. Again, it isn’t about right or wrong….it’s just about you, growing and learning.

Do you art journal now? Did you take Soul Restoration when I did, or are you getting ready to start your journey? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the process, and why you love it!


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4 Responses to Soul Restoration: The Importance of Art Journaling

  1. Avatar
    Toucan Scraps April 7, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    great article Taylor, thank you

  2. Avatar
    Aznewmom April 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Hi Taylor. Loved the article! Thanks for that. I’m looking into this further. Sounds like something I could REALLY use right now. I’m trying to find the price, as you know, spending any ‘extra’ is not on my agenda right now.
    “See” you on FB.

  3. Avatar
    Monique Ouellette, Alberta Canada April 8, 2011 at 2:14 am #

    Taylor, this was a very interesting article. Wow! I’m really impressed with what these ladies are doing. I will definitely consider doing this in the near future thanks to your article. I had never heard of the Brave Girls’ Club before.

  4. Avatar
    Frank Zweegers April 11, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    Great read, indeed.