Welcome to this month’s Pen & Paper: Living Between the Lines written by the amazing Hope Wallace Karney. To learn more about Hope and the column, please check out the announcement post!

In my online journal courses I encourage people to share their art journals with others, on their blog, flickr, or even via facebook. I believe that sharing your artistic journal pages helps you keep at it—the encouragement alone from others’ comments and praise helps you feel good about your work and motivates you to keep creating.

However, many people get concerned about having their private thoughts on display for others to read. To help keep your deepest thoughts from prying eyes (both in person and online), I have some tips to share.

1. When photographing your photos, manually edit them down to no more than 600px wide before posting them online.

… This way people can not enlarge the image and read anything written small easily.

… For reference, the photos in most of the posts on A Beautiful Ripple Effect are 500px wide.

2. Use fun envelopes to hide your deepest thoughts. You can use them plain, or decorate them.

… I love using vintage glassine envelopes (which you can purchase here). New glassine envelopes work too, they can be found at Paper Source and other craft stores.

… Security envelopes work well too. I like to turn them inside out to show the fun pattern and have part of my written words peeking out the window to add interest to my page.

… Regular envelopes always work in a pinch. I especially enjoy using gift card envelopes since they are small and can be added to any size journal easily.

… Tucking a tag into an envelope works well too. You can tie a string to the top to pull out when necessary.

3. Flaps, or sub-pages work wonders at hiding intimate journaling.

… This works best for photographing and sharing, but in person people could still lift them and peek. To avoid this I usually put a seal or piece of pretty tape down to keep it sealed (but easy enough to open myself as needed).

… You can make sub-pages and flaps out of almost anything. With a little tape you can add a subpage anywhere, and I love using unexpected things as flaps (like the skirt on an old fashioned lady).

4. Note and Label

… I often note on the envelope or subpage that the thoughts enclosed are private, and people in person always respect that.

… This adds something visual to the page when people are looking at photographs of it.

Do you have any tips for keeping your journal contents secret? Or do you have any nagging concerns that I could help you creatively navigate with your journaling?


It is 2:35 PM on a Thursday afternoon. I began this post in TextEdit yesterday, got stuck, and closed the document. Something wasn’t working for me, nothing seemed to stick—words and ideas were abundant but without connection or resonance. I opened this document today without a clue as to where the time would lead. As I type these words, I still don’t know where this post is heading. That feeling is frightening. It’s this feeling that I try to avoid through meticulous planning and hours of brainstorming. Then, I end up here and I wonder yet again: what am I doing wrong?

It is 2:42 PM. I’ve spent the last two minutes staring at my computer screen and at the words typed above. I wonder where to go with this post. Is there something within this document worth preserving?

Before hitting delete, I ask myself what isn’t working with this piece. What is different this time than previous attempts that were deemed successful? This question shifts my perspective and enables me to swerve off cruise control. Rather than berate myself and my writing process yet again, I’m going to make it more difficult. I’m going to shock my brain by requesting evidence to file under this failed attempt.

It is 2:49 PM. The answer isn’t difficult to find. When writing, I like to feel a sense of freedom. I like to feel as if I have the right to writeas if I’ve logged enough hours to discard the self-ridicule associated with this activity. I search for that right by looking for external markers—the time (how long I’ve been writing), the word count, etc.. My knee jerk reaction is to look beyond myself for the assurance that I can trust this process. This reaction is the reason I practice yoga. Opening a blank document feels similar to stepping onto your mat at the beginning of class. You never know what you’re going to get. Some days, you fly through poses and don’t break a sweat. Other days, you look as if there is alcohol in your almost drained water bottle. Most often, the judgment in yoga comes when comparing yourself to others or even to yourself from yesterday. When you shut your eyes and trust the process, you gather an inner sense of calm and control. These emotions fuel you through the practice until you roll up your mat and praise yourself for showing up. Have you noticed that yoga is the one place where you thank yourself for simply attempting the activity? I love watching a room of students during this ritual. It’s beautiful and truly rare to see so many people displaying self-compassion so publicly.

It is 3:00 PM. I’ve hit the bottom of this page and can’t believe 25 minutes have passed. This time has felt equal parts exhausting and rejuvenating. It has been a mental workout. The words produced during this workout and written above are messy yet beautiful reminders of this time spent practicing the process.

So do I have the right to write? The beauty of this question is the answer: it doesn’t matter. I did it anyway. You can always do more, be more, and improve your craft. This process is never complete. However, you must move past this knowledge and allow yourself to simply give in to its messiness. To show up, to start, and to finish. This simple truth is what separates professionals from everyone else.

image: graphic anthology


While I adore pinterest (an understatement!), I am almost as equally in love with real tangible inspiration boards. Since I mention inspiration boards quite a bit on A Beautiful Ripple Effect, I think it’s time to share a bit more about the many wonders of creating your own boards. Let’s get started with a visual feast for your eyes that is sure to excite your inner creative.

images: 1. liz caan interiors (via made by girl) | 2. leslie shewring (via decor8) | 3. le dans la (via hanna’s room) | push pins: glitter, silver, fabric pinwheel | 4. found via emmadime | 5. the coveteur | 6. sweetjessie (flickr) | 7. original source unknown

… more of my favorite inspiration boards

Do you have an inspiration board? If so, what do you like to put on it? If not, is it something you would like to create?


As I look outside my window, I see rain fiercely dropping to the ground. Dark clouds are hovering over the buildings. Typing these words, I am jolted by the sound of thunder roaring ever so loudly. For some reason, all of this feels very comforting. Maybe it reminds me of the yucky weather in Boston? Or maybe, just maybe, it is triggering me to notice just how far I’ve come since Boston. Can the weather really do all of that? Mother nature is pretty powerful.

This evening, I plan on having a cozy dinner at home with my husband. Tomorrow, I have such much needed self-care scheduled throughout the day. And Sunday, I will be spending the day with my entire family.  What do you plan to do this weekend? Have you scheduled any self-care into your calendar? Below are a few links that I hope you enjoy!

375 of the world’s finest mind maps. (via Mind Map Art)

Thoughts on Finding Your Way Online with Susannah Conway (via Kind Over Matter)

What I Forgot (via Jen Lemen)

Post-it with love! (via 8 Balloons)

Crawl into your own lap (via Rachel Cole)

My relationship to silence (via Life’s a Stage)

Chevron love (via Life Spelled Jen)

Love these ideas! In defense of beauty: Top 10 ways to put more good out into the world (via chookooloonks)

5 Minutes with Dr. Linda. A series of podcasts on different issues or problems and talking about how you can cope with it. Not in a way that will take you months to cope but in a way that within the next few minutes you’ll understand your problem better, and you’ll have a step-by-step guide on how to attack it.  (via Dr. LindaI want to be just like her when I “grow up”!)

[On my wish list] Gold and solid color geometric notebooks (3 notebooks, approx. $43) by Brown Paper (via Oh Joy)

image: confetti photoshop texture (pugly pixel)


Today’s Color Me Happy mood board feels a bit disjointed, but I’m going to let go of my perfectionistic ways and share it anyway! I focused on cool summer blues (think: aqua, tiffany blue, turquoise). This color is one of my go to colors for accessories—especially during the summer months!

What color do you associate with summer?

sources: ombre aqua print (retro menagerie) | clutch (anthropologie) | photo (tick tock vintage) | aqua earrings (via all things girly & beautiful)

p.s. more color me happy inspiration