Mapology Guides for life

It’s no secret that I love maps. (Something I inherited from my dad.) I have an every going collection of illustrated paper fold out maps that I display on a postcard rack on my desk that I stare at as I work—and type this post. I even taught an entire class on Skillshare that encouraged people to make their own maps.

We so often turn to our phones to tell us where to go, but maps have always been the best way to help us find where we are, and show us where we’re trying to get. Mapology Guides take maps a step further thinking about maps in terms about concepts and ideas rather than physical places, not confined by location, landmarks, or sites to see. They’re illustrated self-help maps for life’s journey.

I first met Mapology Guide creator Tina Bernstein at Betahaus in Berlin where we were for The Hive Berlin, a conference for bloggers. That year was my first conference talk I spoke about the less glamorous side of blogging: blogging etiquette and how to deal with negative comments. (I’ve always liked to keep things real.) One of the people who came up to me after my talk was Tina. We stayed in touch, and connect whenever I’m in London. She even took my Skillshare map making class when it first launched. (Little did I know that conference would unlock SO many friendships.)


What’s with this gratitude thing? Images by Stephanie Hofmann and text by Julia Wills

Since we first met, Tina has gone on to launch her own line of Mapology Guides which are the intersection of her love of maps and mental health. Until recently mental health has often been a taboo subject in the mainstream. Tina, a huge proponent of “doing the work” on yourself, set out to change that through her illustrated guides to life. Our conversations always inspire me to keep exploring myself, and I love how she integrates creativity and play into everything she does.

For each Mapology Guide she brings her own experience with a subject, and teams up with a writer or expert, as well as a different illustrator to bring her vision to life. It’s very much a collaborative effort that starts with brainstorming (I always love when she shares behind the scenes on @mapologyguides on Instagram).

I also love that each map includes a bio of each collaborator, but it’s not some copy and pasted bio. Each is woven into the theme of the map, so you get a personal look into the lens in which they see life. In many ways the bio have tips for life tucked between the lines. In her latest map, “Who Are You?” Tina shares her gratitude for getting to play a small part in expanding the world’s collective wisdom, kindness, and compassion, recognizing she—like all of us—is a work in progress. Tina is the perfect guide for this collection of guides.


Who are you? Images by Laurie Avon and text by Lottie Storey.

Each map seeks out to address different themes from different perspectives:

  • Who Are You? : Playful ways to discover your true self
  • What’s with this Gratitude Thing? How to make the ordinary extraordinary
  • Make it Happen: The incredible power of taking small steps
  • How to Make Better Decisions: 9 tools to deal with every dilemma
  • Are You Looking for Answers? : Enrich your life by asking the right questions
  • How to Grow Your NO: This tiny word will change your life
  • The Anger Apothecary: Dispensing advice for managing this strong emotion
  • What’s Bugging You? A Powerful 7 step coaching session
  • Overthinking: Free your mind from troubling thoughts
  • The Sea of Uncertainty: How to stay afloat in challenging times
  • Where do Ideas Come From? A simple guide to having great ideas
  • Hey, Let’s Work Things Out! Proven tips for a flourishing relationship
  • Check out them ALL!


Clockwise L to R: The Anger Apothecary – images by Jenni Sparks and text by Lottie Storie. How to Grow Your NO – images by Nic Farrell and text by Lottie Storie. How to Make Better Decisions – images by Sarah Edmonds and text by Robert Twigger. What’s Bugging You? – images by Jenni Sparks and text by John-Paul Flintoff.

Each Mapology Guide has a “map” side that may be imagined as the section of a building, a flow chart, a list of questions, a board game, or an imagined place, while the flip side expands on the ideas explored in the map. Every time I open a guide, I notice new details, and there are new concepts and ideas that resonate with me depending on what’s going on in life. You can pick by theme, or your favorite illustrator.

The flip side is like a giant legend. There tends to be more text and lots of questions to get you thinking. The maps are more like games for life to get you thinking (outside of the box) and playing.

And like any map, it’s always fun to revisit them, taking time for reflection and to ponder. It’s amazing how big a world can fit on a single piece of paper. (They’re all printed in the UK.) Also, they come in a really fun package when you order from the shop—Tina wraps them all with love.

P.S. Next Write Your Own Rules is Dec 12th from 6-8pm CET! It’s the last time I’m running it in 2020, and a great way to set yourself up for the new year.

P.S.S. I’m planning on running some version of my 3-month program ‘Mapping Your Path into 2021’ starting in late January or February. Sign up to be notified for the next MYP workshop launch

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