Appreciative journaling at Metal

journaling creativeAP hosted an appreciative journaling workshop last month as part of the In Other Words festival, Liverpool’s festival of books and writing. Community arts organisation Metal, our home for the evening, is a surprising venue, situated on the platform at Edge Hill Station (the world’s oldest passenger station) but a great place for creative introspection.

We began with an introduction to the basics of Appreciative Inquiry, to give people an understanding of the fundamental principles that underpin the philosophy, and then got the participants straight into an activity. People took part in interviews in pairs, choosing a partner they didn’t know. They were asked to actively listen, which they found really interesting, and people said it was nice to talk without being interrupted! As always, you can palpably feel the positive energy in the room rise during this activity, as people were encouraged to talk about a high point in their life.

We the showed the participants the thought-provoking poem Lost Generation by Jonathan Reed, which you can see here. The palindrome demonstrates how the same words can have different meanings depending on your perspective, and that it can be easy to follow and focus on negative thoughts, but more energising and uplifting to follow positive thinking.

We introduced the participants to two examples of journaling exercises from AP’s appreciative journal Food for Thought, and asked to write down their thoughts on:-

• Three things you’ve appreciated about today

• Whatever you focus on grows. What would you like more of in your life right now?

‘Happiness is an inside job’

William Arthur Ward

The next exercise was a short visioning tool called 12 months from now, where we asked participants to write down the smallest thing they could do towards realising their vision for 12 months’ time, and the most radical thing they could do.

Finally, Create the Change‘s Emma Bush delivered a speed session in visual journaling. With only about 15 minutes, there was no time for people to say ‘I can’t draw’, and threw themselves into the task. Firstly, they completed a Wheel of Life, to identify the areas of their lives they’d like to improve, and this became the basis for their visual activity. They each transformed a postcard to highlight which areas they needed to focus on to gain more balance in their lives, creating some lovely images.

‘A different language is a different vision of life’

Federico Fellini

Here’s some of the feedback we’ve had from the group:

I enjoyed the session at Metal so much. It was illuminating in many ways. My sincere thanks…

I really enjoyed the enthusiasm of the speakers and my fellow participants – a very
positive atmosphere in which to learn

I really enjoyed the conversation with a partner – especially the listening

Focusing on my goals highlights the fact I should do more towards small things!

It gave me the speed, energy, space and time to think about me…

I’ve learned that words have such an impact

I need to remember to listen, and not make other peoples stories about me.

The greatest learning is that if you can’t see what you want to do, do something practical – the ‘arty’ bit really overcame the visioning difficulty

Change can be simple

Journaling_1We’re doing our next appreciative journaling workshop for the North West Coaching Circle on July 1, but you can download our handout What is appreciative journaling? here. Email us to find out about future journaling events, or buy a copy of Food for Thought for yourself here.

Helen Bush