Creative Journaling: A chance to unwind

Libby James

photo by Libby James

It reminded me of an old-fashioned quilting bee.

Julie Lynam and her daughter Siobhan Gleason are in the middle of launching a new business, Unwind Creative Journaling. The women gathered around a big table in a sunny room had agreed to be part of the first six-week course, giving Lynam and Gleason a chance to test out their curriculum.

There was laughter and teasing, lots of positive feedback for each other and excitement about what they were doing. Lynam describes the class as a chance to “come in and breathe out, have fun, relax and find your creative spark.” There was no doubt that it was working.

In this, the third session of the class, participants were completing covers for their journals and working on a self-expression page. They learned how to do a watercolor wash, create and attach a sidebar to their page, and techniques for adding photos, drawings, and pieces of writing to their page. Students were encouraged to come up with an epiphany or an a-ha moment they had experienced to incorporate into their page.

The 90-minute class begins with 10 to 15 minutes of instruction by Gleason or Lynam, both of whom are artists, followed by a time set aside to work on journals and a time of sharing during the last 15 minutes of class.

“The time was just gone,” said Maria Wankelman, a math teacher happy to be engaging another part of her brain. Sandra Lundt, former Poudre High School principal, wasn’t sure she was happy about the watercolor wash wrinkling her journal paper.

“Don’t worry, you can iron it if you need to,” Lynam, who taught art at Poudre High School for 30 years, said.

Sandra Haddorff, a childhood friend of Lundt’s and a long-time writer, was challenged by the visual aspects of creative journaling. “It’s uncomfortable for me,” she said, “But then, what’s the risk?

Lynam defines creative journaling as “half-visual, half-writing, a combination of scrapbooking and journaling on steroids.” The ornate collage that forms the cover of her journal contains the words “lowering my expectations has succeeded way beyond my wildest dreams.” It’s a part of her open attitude that serves to encourage creativity among the students in her class. While she takes great care in choosing colors, deciding where to place pieces on the page, and what goes into making up the most pleasing formats, at the same time she encourages experimentation and sees no downside in tearing out a page when that is called for. “Pages grow in the making,” she says. “They have a life of their own.”

Lynam’s mother and father drive up from Boulder to attend the class. Her mother, Ellen Weekley is working on a travel themed journal and her dad, Dick, enjoyed the interaction and offered some friendly advice about creating a list of tips and techniques for the students.

Unwind Creative Journaling will offer classes on a regular basis. For more information and to sign up for a class contact Julie Lynam at 224-5690 or

Ellen Weekley shows off her journal cover.

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