About Marlena

Hi, I’m Marlena, Nice to Meet You!

Picture of Marlena from apenandapurpose.com

I started this blog a few years ago with the intention of helping you to improve your life and increase your confidence through journaling.

I’ve always considered journaling to be sort of like talking to myself. 

It’s a place where you can work through your thoughts about stuff and where you can be mindful of the things you want to be focused on, such as gratitude journaling. 

I’ve had great success with using journaling to reach some of my biggest goals, like going from feeling like a shy imposter all the time to being a director of a large psychology program. Journaling helped me to no longer focus on anxieties and shortcomings and instead focus on changing the stories I tell myself. 

While I was having success with reaching my work goals with journaling, I didn’t feel the same way about this blog. 

What I didn’t realize was that the imposter syndrome I used to feel about my work was absolutely interfering with the success of my blog. 

I was blogging about journaling when most journaling blogs and social media posts were about creating beautiful artistic spreads that could be displayed in magazines. My bullet journal spreads looked like this. 

Talk about getting stuck in comparisonitis! Who the heck was I to teach about journaling? 

So I just stopped. For a long time. Then I started to create kind of related, but not really related posts. 

But then it struck me.

How many of you are out there wishing you could make magazine worthy artwork for your journals and then not even starting your journal – and then not getting the benefits of improving your life? 

What if I were to tackle imposter syndrome around creating art in the same way that I tackled imposter syndrome related to leadership? 

I Can’t Draw – I’m Not Creative

I’ve always loved the idea of creating art in my journal, but felt like I didn’t have the talent. I even wrote in one of my earlier blog posts that I didn’t like to draw. 

I know now that that wasn’t true. What I didn’t like was telling myself I wasn’t good at drawing and then getting frustrated that my work didn’t look like I wanted it to. 

My background as a psychologist tells me that my telling myself I’m not good at something and then getting frustrated when I’m not good at it doesn’t make any sense. So I decided to change my story and to become someone who enjoys drawing and creating art. 

You can see some of my early thoughts (kind of like journaling) about this in my post on how to increase creativity. I was working on changing my stories about what it meant to be creative. 

I was also working through these things in my posts on overcoming limiting beliefs and how to increase your confidence

While these posts were usually about work or business related things, make no mistake. I’ve always been really focused on how can I be a more creative person for my blog. 

And how I can help you do the same.

Starting Out With Creativity

I started out by creating my own journal stickers in Silhouette. 

Creating art digitally allowed me to get it just how I wanted it prior to adding it to my journal. 

I combined my love for journaling with my love for all things technology. I quickly learned that I prefer creating art digitally using software such as Silhouette, Procreate, Canva, Adobe Illustrator, or Affinity Designer. 

(Here’s a tip: when trying to learn something, can you combine it with something you’re good at already? I’m really good at learning to use computer programs and technology. This helped me tremendously). 

Using these tools helped me to make something that developed on the page (rather than having to know what I was creating before starting). 

You see…

I Can’t Imagine Things in My Head

I can’t see pictures in my head. I recently learned this is called aphantasia.

So all the times when I would try to be creative and feel frustrated when nothing came to me…well, that wasn’t me not being creative, it was me trying to be creative in a way that wasn’t going to work for me. It was like trying to fit a ball through a square hole. Not going to happen. 

It’s hard for me to come up with an idea in my head that I can just transform into a drawing. 

Using digital programs allows me to mold and form my artwork without wasting paper or supplies. It’s like using playdough to draw. I absolutely love it. 

Notice that I did not get stuck in my limitations. In fact, I think that having aphantasia helps me a bit with creating art at this point. I learned in Drawing From the Right Side of Your Brain (Amazon affiliate link) that drawing is seeing. You have to draw exactly what you see and not what you think you see. Since I don’t have preconceived pictures in my head, it makes it a lot easier for me to see (and probably easier to teach you the same). 

I chose to focus on learning to create art using Procreate. 

In this post on bullet journal doodles, you can see some of the artwork I created in Procreate.

I followed a bunch of tutorials on YouTube and SkillShare and found that I was able to create beautiful projects while following the tutorials, but I had a hard time remembering how I made the things so that I could create my own projects. 

And I wanted to create my own projects so that I could use them in my own products, such as in my digital planners. I didn’t want to just copy.

It turns out that many beginner artists feel the same way. They’re excited following a tutorial but then quickly get discouraged when they can’t create things themselves. 

That’s because the content of the tutorials is usually pretty advanced. Without following the creator step by step, you don’t yet have the skills to create the thing they’re creating. 

You might find that you need to pause, rewind, and watch over and over again before getting the next step down. 

Of course you’re not going to retain all of that. 

It’s like all those art classes out there that take you from draw this circle with the next step being an elaborate drawing of an animal. Um…you skipped a few steps. 

I recently took a beginner drawing class where the first or second lesson was to draw a realistic giraffe…huh??

That’s just stressful.

Creating Art Should be FUN

Trying to recreate complicated art projects left me kind of discouraged.

But I had to step back a bit and consider what was going on. 

I learned that I needed to start at the beginning. I needed to learn the fundamentals of both drawing and of Procreate. 

Most of all, I needed to do this in a way that was fun. I needed to allow myself to make time to create messes, to fail, and to just roll with it.

Ask yourself this: What would it feel like to make time for yourself to create a new hobby without perfection, without the worries about doing things right? What if you just let yourself have fun, to laugh at yourself when things turn out wonky and to stop “being ashamed” of sharing your art? 

Just like I didn’t know if I could be a leader until I was in a leadership position….and all of the worrying about whether or not I could do it before I did it was a waste of time…the same goes for creating art.

Let’s just start creating. 

My goal is to help you to learn how to create digital art as a beginner. I will help you go from feeling like you aren’t creative or talented to having fun creating art you can be proud of. 

What I ask of you is that you allow yourself to start with ugly art. Start where you are. Then practice, practice, practice. 

Make a sketchbook.

Journal your progress. 

Share your work and stop comparing yourself to others. 

Be proud of yourself and see your uniqueness in everything you create. 

Learn how to spend time with yourself just creating. 

Calm your stress and anxiety and change the stories you tell yourself about what you can and cannot do.

One of the best ways to gain confidence is to do something over and over again until it becomes second nature. What better way to teach yourself what it’s like to be confident than through something as fun as creating art!

So, that’s what I am here for.  I want to help you stop the madness 🙂  My goal is to help you overcome a lifetime of negative self talk and fear to create art you can be proud of.  This includes getting past crappy limiting beliefs and figuring out what you want to do and going for it!    Let’s stop you from getting in your own way and show the world your awesomeness (even if you don’t believe it right now). 

And if you don’t want to show the world your awesomeness, that’s ok too!

Let’s just have fun and create cute things.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]