The Truth in Embodiment

It never ceases to amaze me the connections I make between my art journaling journey and my life; and how it can be used as a tool to express all of the lessons I learn along the way and to practice new ways of being.

Most recently, my path has led me to karate of all things. After almost two years of watching my kids train, I decided to jump in myself... and it has been so fascinating to sink into the unexpected self-growth lessons and to notice how it connects to art journaling!

The Truth in Embodiment

One of the biggest benefits and most awakening Aha's (so far!) I've received from training in martial arts is total embodiment and the true meaning behind it.

For many years I've used the practice of movement to get present before diving into my art journal (in fact, moving your body and activating your senses is one of the suggested rituals in my Roots Class). I've also talked about how getting back in touch with my senses was the beginning of my journey back home to myself.

But I'm starting to see that those short practices were only just the tip of the iceberg. As I explore and stretch the boundaries of what my body is capable of, feel the soreness in new muscles I never even knew existed, and marvel at the magic of muscle memory... I find myself on a journey towards true embodiment and of learning how to be in relation with my body.

Before, my body felt more like a tool - something that just helps me do things. Now, I feel it becoming more a part of me as my mind and body begin to merge on the mat, on the page, and in life.

Embodiment is not just about being aware of the body as a thing, but of being aware AS a body.

...just as we were all born to be. As infants, we have no ability to make sense of the world through thought. Rather, we are aware of everything around us through our senses, and are highly in tune to what our bodies need. But as we grow, we move away from our sensory knowledge and begin to rely solely on our minds.

I'm beginning to think we have it all backwards.

As we all know, the mind can get easily cloudy or confused. It makes up stories that are far from the truth. It can misperceive events and even how we look and feel. It's not always a reliable source of input. The body on the other hand, never lies. It offers the unfiltered truth of what you need and of what you're experiencing.

What if instead, we switched their roles - living from the body and using the mind as the incredible tool it was intended to be only when we needed it?

How much simpler would your life be then? And how much easier would your creative process flow?



Always in curiosity and love,




Better Than Self-Love?

It’s that time of year again – where hearts and cupids are everywhere we look, and the self development world is plastering quotes on self-love. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for love. But why does it have to be centered around buying more stuff, and what the heck does self-love mean anyway?

Love can mean very different things from one person to the next. And the road toward self-love can be long and hard, and is very personal. Yet, self-love is often spoken of as if it were a switch that could be simply turned on. And even more so, we often paint the picture that self-love is an idealized state where we only feel positive feelings towards ourselves.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Loving ourselves does not mean our inner critical voice is suddenly shut off, or that we never suffer, or that we don’t become disappointed in ourselves.

And from my experience, you can’t just decide to love something or someone and immediately have it be so. It takes intention, nurturing, and most of all time. Trying to force an end result without first focusing on the steps to get there can be disheartening.

What happens when you fail at something, or don’t meet your own expectations? What happens if you kind of hate a part of yourself? What happens when you decide to love yourself, you struggle with it, and then perhaps you start to think thoughts like: “Why can’t I? What’s wrong with me?” What happens when you think overly critical or hateful thoughts, then turn it around and say something loving – but it only makes you feel worse because you don’t truly believe it?

It’s exactly in moments like these where telling ourselves to be more loving might actually backfire.

So what then?

What if instead, we focused more on being compassionate toward ourselves?

Doesn’t that already feel oh so much lighter? Self compassion doesn’t ask us to judge ourselves, it’s simply a way of relating to ourselves kindly. It allows us to embrace ourselves as we are right now, flaws and all. It gives us permission to feel the way we feel without shame. It gives us a more solid sense of self worth because it’s there for us when we fail. It deeper connects us to others because it reminds us that to be human is to be imperfect.

You already have the roadmap and the skills to be compassionate. I can bet that you at least try to be compassionate with your good friends and loved ones. So there’s nothing more you need to learn; it’s simply a softening in to include yourself in the encouragement, understanding, empathy, patience, and gentleness you offer others.

I believe that once we stop treating ourselves so differently and show ourselves the same compassion as we do others, we will come to truly acknowledge our shared nature of our imperfect humanity – thus opening our hearts even wider to others and ourselves, in turn creating a more loving world all around.

Much love to you!!

{Creative} Soul Truths #5

You already have everything you need. Your authentic Soul voice is bright, beautiful, and patently waiting to freely express itself.

Its quiet voice is always speaking to you, through what we call intuition, even if you can’t quite hear it now. We all have intuition… it’s our inner knowing, or what I like to call the language of our Soul. It’s the part of you that speaks the truth about who you are and what you want. So basically, it’s your life road map to living your purpose, and your most fulfilled, joyful life!

If we get present and follow its urges when we sit down to create, we will develop an art journaling practice that can ultimately bring us more confidence, happiness, self-awareness, healing, and a newfound sense of wholeness.

If doing that feels impossible for you right now, then for one reason or another, your mind is trying to protect you from letting your creative spirit free, from letting your intuitive Soul lead the way. (You’re not alone! It’s a totally natural part of being human.) The key then, is to go gently, with compassion, and start to build trust between your mind and your intuitive Soul.

Your mind is so used to being in control and predicting outcomes. For us to truly get present and follow our Soul’s whims one step at a time, means to step into the scary unknown. That place of unknowing, of uncertainty, can feel dark and filled with monsters. We will hold on for dear life and fight tooth and nail not to be thrown off the edge into that scary space!

So the only way in, is to start slow, start gently, hold that compassion for the part of you that’s scared sh**less, celebrate yourself every step of the way, and build trust that when you listen to your intuition, everything will indeed be okay.

TIP: Practice being present and becoming an observer of your thoughts. When fears or judgements come up, acknowledge it without running away, then choose courage – what one step are you willing to take next?

I so hope that you have found this Soul Truths series to be helpful and inspiring!

If you would love to get more support around connecting to and building trust with your creative, intuitive Soul so that you may express yourself more fully in your journal (and in life!), then I invite you to join me and a community of other Soul Seekers in my 6-week program Creative Soul Roots. (We start Sept 28th, 2019!)

In it, I’ll guide you through a series of fun, creative exercises that will help you to put these Soul Truths into action, nurture your creative Soul, and develop the skills needed to get out of your head and into your heart.
Click Here for more info & to reserve your spot!

Whether you decide to join us or not, I know for certain that if you’re here, then creative expression is the path you were meant to take to help liberate your Soul. I know you can do this, don’t give up!

Much love to you!!

Let’s Go Deeper (NEW Changes Happening!)

Over the years of diving into art journaling and supporting others to fully express themselves, I’ve always felt a deeper current happening beneath the surface. It has always been hard for me to name with words, but over the last couple years things have been getting more and more clear.

And this year, I am finally making the shift to fully embrace this deeper current, exploring it and expressing it through my emails, articles, videos, and offerings so that you too may dive deeper into the healing and transformation of it to live a more vibrant life.

So what might you expect from here on out?

Let me start by first sharing more about my journey of coming into clarity about this…

You may have heard my story of how I shifted from creating and living a life of control and perfectionism, to living and creating more freely and intuitively. I’ve written about this numerous times on the blog (HERE and HERE) and in my free AIR Book – how I got so burnt out with creating products with a step-by-step formula and always trying to perfect things, that I had to quit my job and rediscover the joy of creating.

And the more I told and retold my story, especially as it was unfolding, the more I could see the bigger picture of what was really happening.

That shift from struggling with creativity to falling in love with the process using play, curiosity, and most of all, my intuition, has been such a huge life changer for me. Not only with creativity, but within myself as well. Through this way of creating from the soul, I rediscovered parts of me I didn’t even realize I had lost. And I continue to discover more every day.

And as I awaken these parts of me within, I can more clearly see how disconnected I truly was to myself, and how it was all due to an imbalance that still plagues the majority of the western world today.

Our society relies so heavily on the mind and the "left-brain" way of thinking. We honor logic, structure, speed, control; so much so that we often let our minds run on auto-pilot and we forget that there’s this whole other part of us within – this gentler, kinder, wiser, creative, feminine part of us.

We tend to live on the surface of our mind, experiencing our fears and scattered thoughts. We can so easily get caught up in the to-do lists, the constant forward movement. And this masculine, "left brain" way of thinking really wore me down to the point of depression.

At the time, I had no idea what was wrong. All I knew was that there was something more. Something I was missing.

We as humans, the lives we lead, and the world around us are all made up of infinite dualities. But our culture is only looking at one side of the coin.

Looking back, I can now clearly see that I was suffering from imbalance. I had completely shut down my "right-brain" way of thinking – the part of me that is intuitive, emotional, feminine, and oh so creative.

I was only living from half of who I truly was.

And through creativity I’ve been unconsciously reawakening this other side of the duality. But I am ready now to bring more light to these feminine, "right-brain" aspects.

I want to start consciously exploring not just creativity, but also intuition, sensuality, emotions, play, beauty, and all of the other pieces of ourselves that may be shut down or hiding.

With this in mind, I’ve been quietly building something new… And my heart is fluttering like crazy just thinking about sharing it with you.

I have been creating a space for women to support each other in bringing more life into our day-to-day by exploring and bringing more awareness to the beautiful depths of who we truly are through creativity, playfulness, and connection. I’ll be offering it as a monthly community in which we’ll explore all of the different "right-brain" aspects of ourselves.

—> (If you might be interested in joining me, send me an email at hello{at}kristalnorton.com to let me know. I’ll be opening the doors on Tuesday to a select few women to become the founding members of this blossoming community.)

Throughout our explorations over the year and beyond, I’ll be sharing my stories and insights with you via email and my blog so that you too may gain a deeper connection to yourself.

Creativity will still be my main focus for what I share (and it will be the connecting thread throughout our private community explorations), but it will now be flavored with deeper insights around ALL of the feminine, "right-brain" aspects of ourselves. :)

I hope this shift will continue to inspire you and enrich your life, as much as it has been enriching mine.

Much love to you!!

Exploring Dualities by Tipping the Scale

Something interesting happened yesterday… so many things came into alignment and clarity as I was searching for answers – and it all came through after a big frustration in my art journal.

For the past two weeks I’ve been working on paintings of body parts for Connie Solera’s #21embody challenge. At first, I used photos as a reference, making sure each piece accurately represented the body part I was focusing on in terms of line, shape, perspective, and shadow. (Perhaps this was my way of proving to myself that I still knew everything I learned back in art school.) As my series progressed, and I felt more confident in knowing I could do realistic work, I began to loosen up.

I stopped relying so heavily on reference photos, letting it be more playful than rigid. I started to move quicker and quicker with each piece… until yesterday, when I moved so quickly that I lost all control to create a recognizable image. I was so frustrated, not knowing why it wasn’t working and being angry that it wasn’t "good enough" – that I painted over it with white.

Later, as I was reflecting about the classes I teach and the community I’ve been dreaming up (more on that soon!!), I realized that much of my work in this world is all about tipping scales into the opposite extreme, so that it may bounce back and find balance. And it came as such an "Ah Ha!" moment when I saw that this is what had happened in my art journal – it was just me tipping another scale. I had to see where too much was too much. Where the balance between creating something recognizable and letting it be a free expression becomes unstable.

Creativity always has a way of awakening me to deeper truths. It’s always a mirror for what I need to see or learn. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that what I was working on in "real life" would show up in my journal. And so, instead of starting over or trying again, I decided to write "Play with the Balance" over the top to help me remember this lesson.

This idea of tipping the scale to find a balance can be seen and used in so many areas of our lives. (Perhaps unintentional tipping could be called “going overboard” or “hitting rock bottom”?)

When something doesn’t feel in alignment, perhaps you’re tipped too far in one direction and it’s time to explore that duality.

For example, I have come to the realization that my class Creative Soul Roots is all about tipping the scale of perfectionism all the way over to messy play. We shift our focus from the inner critical thoughts, toward our wise intuitive voice. We let loose and make big messes to break through the barriers that hold us back in our journals, in creativity, and in life. And it’s not that playing and making a mess is necessarily the end goal overall – it’s just a catalyst to move out of perfectionism and stuckness, in order to find our balance. We use the mess as a way to experience what it’s like on the other side.

There are two sides to everything. Life is full of dualities: day/night, waking/sleeping, black/white, sorrow/joy, male/female, past/future, ocean/shore, work/play, movement/stillness, all/nothing, life/death… and one cannot exist without the other. We cannot know easy without first knowing hard. We cannot honor beauty without the ugly. We cannot appreciate our joy without knowing the depths of our pain.

The dualities of life can be shifted heavily to one side, or we can find a rhythm to allow both to exist in harmony. We are both light and dark. We are both tender and fierce. We are both fearful and courageous.

If you’re working to shift something in your life, what would the opposite extreme be?

(Of course, it’s not always safe to actually act out these extremes, but it gets your mind thinking if you explore that idea in your journal!)

Much love to you!!