Reflection Boards and Boxes

September 11th will forever be a day of reflection.

It forces us to reflect on the past, the present, and what is in store for us in the future.

 Many times there aren’t words that describe the way we feel about something. Or at times we feel several emotions at once and it is difficult to articulate them all. This reminded me of what I often do to relax and reflect on the present moment. I create what I call a “Reflection Board” in my visual journal  or on a separate piece of paper. These boards are direct reflections and extensions of ourselves and can give us a great insight that words don’t seem to be able to do. And the bonus is that the process can be done in just 15 minutes with things you already have around the house!

I call it my:

Reflection Boards and Boxes

 It is something you can do by yourself alone or with the entire family. I have found teenagers to really enjoy it and have a lot to express this way.

The best part is all you need are old magazines, paper, scissors, and some sort of adhesive.

Reflection Boards and Boxes

Then, without thinking too much (remember try to keep it around 15 minutes) spend about 5 to 7 minutes cutting out images, or words that speak to you. You don’t have to know the reason why you like that image…just grab it. Try your hardest to not be intential about what images you choose. Just go with whatever images you notice you have a reaction to and place it in your pile. Remember, you don’t have to use ALL the images you gather- just grab images to your heart’s content…well with in the 15 minutes of course. 😉

Reflection Boards and Boxes

Then, I usually begin to arrange and glue them on my page usually with the larger images in the background first. Again, I try not to think too hard on how to place them… I just go with whatever feels right.

Reflection Boards and Boxes

And I keep adding images.

Reflection Boards and Boxes

and more images…

Reflection Boards and Boxes

Until I feel like it is complete.

Then I stop.

Reflection Boards and Boxes

 Then, if I have extra time, I will take a step back and observe and reflect about my page. You will be amazed how simple phrases or photos really seem to describe how you are feeling at that particular moment. It is as if they symbolize your inner confessions, whether you knew they were there or not. Sometimes, I will then write on the opposite side or on another sheet of paper about feelings or thoughts that come to mind right then. Sometimes, I don’t feel like there is anything else to say because it somehow spoke for me. The crazy part to me is that I can look at any one of these reflection boards and still remember exactly how I was feeling during different parts of my life- even if I didn’t spend time writing about it.

It’s amazing.

Time Saving Tips: Try using a smaller piece of paper so  you don’t feel like you have to fill up the whole page. Also, set a timer and come back to it later- who says you have to finish it all in one sitting?

I also have images already cut and ready to go. I use images in a lot of my art therapy work and with my visual journal and before I throw out a magazine- I cut out any possible image or phrase and organize it for a later date like this:

Reflection Boards and Boxes

But that is not all.

Another way I have used collaging is to make a “15 Minutes to Sanity Box” where I took an old box I already had and collaged on it using the same guidelines I mentioned before.

Reflection Boards and Boxes

Then, I filled it up with things that make my heart sing.

Reflection Boards and Boxes

 Chocolate, love notes, photographs, music, smelly good markers, and some essential oils are all a must in my box.

Reflection Boards and Boxes
 Then on those CRAZY days where I feel a little INSANE and just need a 15 minute breather…I lock myself in my bathroom (sometimes with a child knocking at the door) and open up my box and find my sanity once again. If all else- it reminds me that I am alive and is a reminder of living and enjoying the present moment.
This also is a great idea for those teenagers (girls in particular) who seem to have “drama” at school and every once in awhile need a little pick me up or need a place they can keep their secret thoughts and feelings.
I know many of you have collaged before… but how many of you have used it as a form of relaxation and getting in tune with the present moment? How often do you really actually even take 15 minutes to reflect and refocus?
Try one of these methods and let me know how it goes and what you put in your “15 Minutes to Sanity Box”- I am always in need of new ideas!
For more about what I personally discovered from doing this page you can visit me here on!
Now go and take 15 minutes to reflect and refocus!
Reflection Boards and Boxes
    1. September 11th, 2012 at 6:02 am
      Joanna says:
      This is SUCH a cool idea. I would love to hear more about your art therapy. I'm about to start a course on creative therapy myself, it's something I'd really like to do in the future. The work I've done so far was with intuitive drawing and painting, I never thought to do it with magazine pictures. Thanks for an enlightening post!

      P.S. I'm relatively new to reading your blog and am loving your content!
      • September 11th, 2012 at 10:45 pm
        Cristi Dame says:
        Glad we share the passion for art therapy! i love intuitive drawing and painting myself but figured it may be a little intimidating to throw out there for those newer to art therapy.

        Collaging and taking only 15 minutes seemed more doable and less scary. If you google "soul collage" you can find out more about a collaging technique that I rather enjoy!
    2. September 11th, 2012 at 1:57 pm
      Shelley says:
      Why the heck did this choke me up a little?! I obviously need 15 minutes to myself right now. ;) Thanks for this beautiful post Cristi. I sure love your ideas.
      • September 11th, 2012 at 10:47 pm
        Cristi Dame says:
        Images are more powerful than we even know. Try it and let me know how it goes and what you discover! Can't wait to hear about it!
    3. September 11th, 2012 at 2:38 pm
      Missy says:
      I am always thinking of things like this for the kids but hadn't thought to try it for me. I love that you don't have to have talent at drawing or painting and you still come away with something meaningful and pretty.
      • September 11th, 2012 at 10:52 pm
        Cristi Dame says:
        It is true...we moms forget to do simple things like this for ourselves. And I know for me that I always get hung up on whether something ends up looking pretty or not- so sometimes I won't even try if I can't do it just right. So, just going with the moment and letting whatever happen happen is good practice for me to let go.

        Try it and let me know what you think!
    4. September 18th, 2012 at 1:39 pm
      Susan says:
      These are great looking, and I can certainly see why they are therapeutic. A lovely idea! I think the "on a piece of paper" versions could be put in the Smash Journals (and similar books) that have been so popular the past few years. I have a Smash Journal and I think I'll do a few pages of this in my Smash from time to time. Thank you for this nice offering!
    5. September 18th, 2012 at 2:39 pm
      Lisa says:
      Thank you sooo much for this great idea! This is exactly what I need, on a pretty regular basis! I feel like I need to create something, SOMETHING, or I'm gonna explode. But I'm kinda TypeA, and always feel like I have to have the clean table (never) and orderly supplies (hardly) and 2 or 3 hours (hah!), and then some fantastic idea. Soooo, I explode instead, sometimes in tears. Art journaling sounds like EXACTLY WHAT I'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR/NEEDING! THANK YOU!! I'm gonna do it tonight!
    6. September 29th, 2012 at 10:16 am
      Heather says:
      I really love this! Found via pinterest ;-D Gives me some more ideas for some things I am working on! Thank you for your inspiration! (and love your pages!)
    7. April 16th, 2013 at 9:26 pm
      Wendy Young, LMSW, BCD says:

      I was lured to this post by the visual images. Maybe it was because I spent a big part of today with teens doing some collage work! Love it! Love your idea for covering boxes, too!

      I am definitely going to be getting a lovely organer file to store "neeeded" images and phrases for the future. Right now, they reside in my desk drawer (in a "somewhat" organized fashion)!

      Wendy @Kidlutions
    8. November 12th, 2014 at 8:37 am
      Alicea says:
      Thanks for this great idea. I think it will be a great way to destress.
    9. July 11th, 2015 at 5:27 am
      Martha says:
      You should look up Soul Collage. This is very similar to that but the card is only 5X8 and no words are used on the cards. It can be very revealing.
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