Random thoughts on scrapbooking and life's journey
believer, wife, mother, storyteller,
Digital Scrapbooker since 2006
inconsistent journal keeper, lifelong learner
facing my fears and taking my stories beyond the journal and off the page
finding inspiration in my garden and herb beds and on photo exploration trips with Bruce and the girls
self-taught hesitant artist, and writer
This article was started on Thursday October 17, a day that started and ended differently than I could expect. In the middle, I breifly paused to try to collect my thoughts. Before I finished, busy called. Today I pause in the middle of busy to finish my thoughts
Most of my days start and end differently than expected. The unexpected is necessary to my creative habit. I did not always embrace it. I still fight against it some of the time. I woke with my head spinning in too many directions. Instead of gathering my thoughts on my journal page, I rushed into the day. A large pot of soup simmered on the stove before I finished breakfast. Chopping the onion and carrots helped focus my thoughts but not enough to carry me through the lull of the afternoon.
The day is half over or more and I sit wondering, what happened to my day. I've said yes where I thought I would say no and said no where I thought to say yes. The mixed up jumble will work out in the end and I'll sit amazed and perplexed. I fold laundry and am thankful for the blessings I have. Again the repeated motion focuses my brain for a time. The weekend looms large. I am unprepared. I am unsure how to prepare. The plans have changed this week. I find myself stepping into the unknown, taking risks and hoping I don't fall. I find myself battling nerves as I prepare my family for a different weekend than myself. I take a deep breath and move forward wondering.
Retreat. It sounds enticing. My mind is drawn to the battle implications. The armies retreat in surrender. This weekend my mom and I will retreat from the daily tasks that weigh us down to encourage and be encouraged. Victoria teases me about my last trip to Camp Kadesh, "No hiking across the water, Mom." I'll never live that down. Memories forged in time becoming part of our ongoing story. This time new memories await, new experiences as I share the speaker role with my mom. The experience looms large. I wonder at my ability and know I must surrender. Surrender my ego. Surrender my doubt and trust. Trust that I have prepared. Trust that God will use my inadequacies. Surrender requires trust. It requires faith.
Do one thing every day that scares you. Eleanor Roosevelt.
This quote has played in my brain all week. It is a reminder to me to keep taking that next step even if I can not see the destination yet. Each day has it's own lessons. Each day has an opportunity to trust, to risk, to grow and to learn. This weekend I take a big step of faith. It is a chance to be creative and to use my creativity.
Do one thing everyday that scares you. Eleanor Roosevelt.
Busyness and never-ending to do lists hamper my creativity. I get frustrated and agitated. This fall I started trimming things from my schedule. I started being intentional about taking creative time. Self doubt loomed large. What if no ideas come? What if I fail? What if I succeed? What if...? The list is long and varied. It tends to block the creativity. The cycle continues. I needed to break the cycle. I needed to move beyond fear to inspiration and action.
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy. Dale Carnegie.
I knew from past attempts at creative habits I needed to do something soon. There is inertia in action as well as inaction. I needed to get passed the inertia of inaction. One of my favorite inspiration sources is quotes. They are a spark from which I can create. Often digital art, stories and speeches are sparked by a quote. Late September, my internet was down. I chose to seize the opportunity to change my habits. I went to the library and started browsing through a quotations reference book. As a quote or saying caught my interest I wrote it down. The paper is now on a pile of papers on my desk waiting for further attention. It was an action step that triggered further action. I put the book aside and started writing. I returned home and pulled out my digital tools to tell more of our story. I returned to creating fantasy pages and altered reality pages. One step led to more steps.
Today, I face a new fear. The old isn't conquered yet just muted. I can choose to face it or hide from it. Today, I am preparing for an impromptu speech at my Toastmasters meeting. I was going to leave this project for January. Can you say procrastination! But how do you prepare for an impromptu speech? I am preparing by gathering quotes. They are a primary source of inspiration for me. They are an anchor that I can build the speech on. The other thing I am doing is reminding myself that I can not fail. This is a chance to practice and to learn. I get feedback. I only fail if I choose to ignore all the feedback. Otherwise, I have gained because I took a step of action. I tried one new thing and moved toward greater confidence.
We just finished a four day weekend for thanksgiving. The weekend was full of memory making moments and hard work. As usual, there was food to feed a small army. Unlike most years, the small army had to work for the food this year. We spent Saturday and Monday replacing flooring at my parents house. Instead of old rug that is hard to clean, my parents have new laminate. We are hoping it will help mom's lungs so she can breathe easier.
Not everyone could work on the floor at the same time. The rest of us washed walls, made food, washed furniture and generally tried to help keep the sawdust to a minimum in the house. I had to work Saturday afternoon. I returned to the smells of turkey cooking. Delicious. Kathryn had changed jobs from helping with the floor to helping Hayley with preparing the meal. Those girls are gaining more confidence in the kitchen all the time. Victoria had made apple and pumpkin pie for desert while I was at work Friday.
Before the work bee and celebration started, Bruce and I headed down to the river. He flexed his work schedule Friday and worked in the evening instead of the morning. He is trying to help me learn a bit more about the camera and how to get different effects. We have had a very full fall. We took the opportunity to spend a little time together. It almost backfired. He is a very technical photographer. I am looking for pieces for a photo realistic scene that is developing in my head. I am willing to play with artistic filters on the photos as needed to recreate my idea. He can't see my idea. We paused, sat on the riverbank and watched the geese. After some quiet, I hesitantly started to explain my idea. Would I have the right words to express the half formed image? He listened and explained some more of the technical details I was missing. I tried a few different things. I collected some leaves to shoot at home in a light box. It was good to reconnect.
There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle. Albert Einstein.
Creativity reminds me to see the miracles in every day life. I can not create if I am caught up in negativity. It blocks my thought process and closes me off. I spiral down into despair. Gratitude is a step that recognizes that every thing around me has potential. It is a gift I can learn from. My writing, my art, my storytelling all offer a chance to recognize the wonder I encounter every day.
Yesterday, I woke up tired. Things went downhill from there. I repeatedly caught myself in the spiral of negativity. In frustration, I opened my image manipulation program. I was determined to play and work out the emotions in a non-destructive way. I cut apart a few photos. I put them back together differently. I stretched myself to try new things. I noticed things in the photos I hadn't seen when I took them. I was reminded of the greatness of creation. I was reminded of the beauty all around. I was remind I am creative. I can learn. I can play. Slowly I shed the negativity. I watched it crumble on the floor. I started to notice things around me. Flowers still bloom in the neighbourhood in spite of last week's frost. Leaves in orange, yellow and red dance across the sidewalk. Others crunch under foot as I walk.
After school, I had the opportunity to once again hang out at the park with my daughter. It's cross country season. We are at the park often. Some days, I want to grumble. It is cold. I have other things to do. Then I remember, I hae a car ride to connect with my daughter, just her and I. I get to watch her run and cheer her on. I get to encourage her as she works through difficulty and succeeds. I get to encourage her because she is trying something she enjoys. Yesterday was a practice. They ran drills. I sat in the car and observed. I read. I conversed via text with my mom. I conversed via phone with my other daughter. I paused in the busy. I was reminded of the blessing all around me. I choose my response. This time, I chose well. Other times, I choose poorly. It is my choice how I look at the world around me. I chose to see the blessing. I choose gratitude.
This Thursday I am thankful for creation and creativity that remind me of the blessings I have been given. I choose gratitude for each blessing that comes my way. I choose to look for them and offer the creator a word of thanks as they come. What will you choose today?
The difference between greatness and mediocrity is often how an individual views a mistake.
I want to grow and learn but I don't want to risk. It doesn't work! Growth requires risk or at the very least some resistance and pressure. Consider the body builder. They push their muscles to the limit to see what they can do. Over time the limit changes as their strength grows. Consider the trees. Those that are never exposed to wind are weak. They topple in the first storm. My seedlings snap in the first strong wind they encounter unless I introduce them slowly to the wind. Their stalks grow strong and they stand tall during the summer storms. I am learning my creative muscles need the same gentle resistance. I need to risk and explore the edges of what I know to strengthen it.
I pick up my journal and write. I am hesitant to try the new idea I have. I am hesitant to stretch my wings. And yet, I want to grow. I start a habit. Small steps. Something creative every day. Not every day because life happens. The wind comes. Will I continue. I fall. I pick myself up and dust myself off. I try again. In the trying learning happens. Some ideas don't success. Some ideas need more skill before I can represent the idea that floats in my brain.
Experimentation takes risk. By its very nature it is trying new things. Some fail. I hesitate. I do not like to fail. Perfection challenges me. I have replaced excellence with perfection and it stops me in my tracks. Play is the antidote. A walk through the woods with Bruce, a game, a doodle, a sketch all aspects of play fight against the idea of perfect. Perfect doesn't exist. It taunts and tempts and hinders our progress. I push on. I try to learn and grow. I experiment and play. Some work. Some fail. I learn from the failure. I put aside those mediums I do not enjoy. I repeat those I want to learn more about.
Creativity is the residue of wasted time Albert Einstein
Last spring, Bruce and I puzzled over a crossword while we ate lunch. The puzzles with a quote running through frustrate me. Until enough of the quote is uncovered, they remain a mystery at best. Undeterred we continued. I started the sudoku as I puzzled. I needed something to generate success. Slowly, the quote took shape. A discussion of creativity ensued.
Meanwhile, I started and stopped a few meager attempts at writing one last speech to meet the requirements of the first Toastmaster speaking workbook, Competent Communicator. I joined Toastmasters in June of 2012. Completing this manual before the end of June 2013 was one of my goals. There are places I stumbled, places I know I could improve. As I practised, I found myself bumping into a seven minute time limit. In April, I completed in a speech competition with a five to seven minute time limit. Thirty seconds on either side meant disqualification. This speech needed to be longer. My brain kicked in and told me I would be overtime. I dropped material. Ugh. I wanted to leave my notes at my seat. Bruce called me an overachiever and I relented and put them on the podium as a reminder to speak through to the end. Speak through. Keep going. Lessons I slowly learn. Lessons that apply not only to speaking but leadership and life.
My journey, my reading and my wasted time in ten minutes:
Dare to Dream
Months later, I am still learning the same lessons. I had plans to post something creative here everyday in October. Then the first weekend hit. We attended a surprise 40th birthday party out of town. I looked forward to the drive, the scenery, the time to connect. I looked forward to surprising our friend. But I felt pressure to stop and post first. Pressure I placed on myself. Pressure that hindered all creativity. It took an hour and a half on the drive before I could open up and enjoy the scenery. It took time to pause and enjoy and let the creation around me inspire me.
framing with a photo
We paused and Bruce got out the camera. I grabbed my pencils and sketchbook. How long would he pause? Sometimes the stops were only 5 minutes. I snapped a quick photo. It helped me frame the scene. I started with the closest item I wanted to capture and started the basic shapes. What did I see? What did I think I saw? My brain tells me to put in what I think I see but then the perspective goes wonky. I fight against it. The short time reminds me to only add what I can see. Let the viewer add the rest. And so I sketched. As we started driving, I added a few details. I added depth with some shadowing that I had lightly placed in my quick sketch. When I got to the point I needed to look at the photo to continue, I stopped. Between the sketch and the photo, I can later return to the image if I wish and build on it. This is one I might like to try with pastel to add color.
The world is but a canvas to the imagination. Henry David Thoreau
Each step along the journey of finding my voice has tested long held opinions of who I am. Each step has built on the previous one from scrapbook to digital art to writing and speaking. The latest step has been the most surprising. I returned to the mess of the physical world. More mess than paper and glue. I picked up a paintbrush. I experimented with pastels and canvas. I spent a year creating postcard art inspired by various countries. It started with the story between two unlikely friends and turned this reluctant writer into a hesitant artist.
I enjoy postcard art. It influences my scrap art and my digital art influences my postcards. I enjoy creating characters and scenes. My toolbox is full of options for telling the story. My voices crack and quiver at times as I take each tentative step on this creative journey. I can not choose just one voice to focus on as each brings its own pleasures and challenges. Each step influences how I see the world.
Round n Round
My creative habit changed how I look at things. I notice things I previously missed or ignored. Creation abounds with beauty and mystery. I choose to use my creative voice to reflect some of that beauty and mystery but I refuse to do so merely as a reporter. I choose to alternate between reporting and creating. I choose to let my imagination play.
When words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain. William Shakespeare.
The premise of the scrapbook is to combine words and images to tell a story. A picture may be worth a thousand words but if no one knows anything about the image, the story is lost. Once those who hold the key move or die, the key is lost. Images and a list of stats relating to it gets boring. Story goes beyond the statistic.
This blog began as I worked on improving my writing. I am a reluctant writer. I did not enjoy language arts in school. I did not enjoy art either and yet, I am finding my voice using skills gathered in both places. I researched different writing styles including poetry and essay. I am intrigued by the various ways I can tell a story on and off the scrapbook page. Once again, my voice is growing.
A story, an essay, a poem, a speech all use creativity as I choose which words to include and which to omit. The choices I make are influenced by my mood and intentions. They in turn influence the audience. I am a work in progress and continue to find my voice through written and spoken word.
Through digital scrapbooking, I learned about Artist Trading Cards (ATC), art dolls and more. I started using my tools to not only record our family story but to also create mine. My story needed an expanded voice as I worked through ideas. It needs experimentation and play.
The first steps were again tentative. I learned that I like the constraints of ATC to kick start a creative session. Later, I started to experiment with building scenes to reflect stories. I read about other artists who work with composites and digital tools. I let myself experiment and play. As my creative habit slid, these were the first to be put aside. The creating takes more thought and effort than the recording. Because of this, I learned these are a key component of my creativity. With digital scrapbooking, my voice is that of a reporter. With fantasy pages and composites, my voice is that of a creator. Creating takes imagination and play.
As I found my creative voice, and allowed myself to play, the voice grew. I learned what I enjoy. Now that I am restarting the creative habit, I am regaining that voice. I am learning through risk and experimentation.
If you've heard this story before, don't stop me, because I'd like to hear it again. Groucho Marx
Every storyteller has a voice, a means of communicating their ideas and stories to the world around. My first step in finding my voice was scrapbooking. It is still the place I return most often. I started to put words and images together in scrapbook format years ago using paper and glue. In 2006, I started dabbling in digital. I was hooked! No mess. The kids couldn't rearrange my page while I stirred supper. Editing my journalling is a breeze. My regret: it is hard to include my handwriting.
I scrapbook to tell our family story. It is a way to document memories and milestones as the girls grow up. I record events such as birthdays, recitals, and competitions. I record memories of vacations and daily life. I use it as a way to learn and explore. My current pages are very different than the early pages. The change is part of the story, the story of growth, experimentation and play. Life is a journey and my scrapbooks reflect that.
first page ever
more early pages
My digi-scrap habit has expanded to include fantasy pages and art journaling. Each offers a new way for my voice to be heard. The engagement scrapbook I created first was a tentative step to finding a greater creative voice. As I work to rebuild my creative habit, I look forward to watching my voice strengthen.
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