Apr 082010

I mailed off my journal today to my partner in Thailand, feeling as if I was saying farewell to a good friend. If you recall, I am participating in an EtsyBloggers swap in which each person journals every day in March on an assigned topic. At the end of the month, the journals are mailed off to a partner. You can learn more about the details of the swap in a previous post I wrote.

Overall, I really enjoyed the process of journaling daily, but I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that at times I was also a little frustrated. It was quite a challenge to keep to the schedule, and of course finding time to journal. You had to make the time; I guess that’s true of anything that’s really important to you. What was also frustrating is that I wanted the journal to be perfect, but I knew that I couldn’t take forever to finish it. My partner is expecting her journal to arrive sometime this month, after all. One of our assignments involved creating a sketch centered around our business card . . . and drawing is not really my forté. But I forged ahead, anyway, and the result is probably not too awful. I felt much more comfortable designing my pages digitally.

When the end was almost in sight—when each journal page was completed and the pages were ready to be bound inside their covers, I pulled out my Zutter Bind-it-All, a tool that punches holes into chipboard in readiness for Owire to be inserted for a spiral binding. Unfortunately, I have used the Bind-it-All only a few times and it has been a while since I used it the last time, so the punching process did not go as smoothly as I would have liked. The front cover got punched without a hitch, but the back cover required double-punching because the holes did not align properly. And yes, you can see the error. I was forced, however, to accept the final result because I had neither extra materials nor time to re-do the cover. Definitely not perfect, but it’s a good lesson for me to learn acceptance of imperfection; life is too short to agonize over small things!

The cover of my journal reads “Live – Learn – Discover,” three stages that I encountered as I journaled. Life doesn’t stop while you write about it, so you learn to fold in your observations with what is happening around you—and in the process you make some discoveries. This part of journaling is exhilarating.

Some of the assignments were playful . . . one day we were asked to take a photo and tear or cut it up, then re-assemble the pieces randomly. One other journal entry was written upside down (although I got a little carried away by alternating between upside down and right-side up paragraphs). Yet another entry was written in multiple colors. The lesson for me was a simple one. Don’t take yourself so seriously!

Possibly the most difficult part of the EtsyBloggers journal swap was sending the journal off, never to see it again. When you journal, you make a very personal investment in the pages, and it’s difficult to share that with someone else, especially someone you have never met. But there is also value to the process of letting things go, no matter how they turn out. Life goes on, you move forward, and hopefully you’ll have more courage to tackle whatever your next challenge will be. Would I do this again? I believe so!

© 2010 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Mar 042010

It has been quiet here in Blog Land, so apologies go to my readers who have visited this page repeatedly since December, only to discover that nothing new was being reported. There have been happenings, but I guess I haven’t stopped long enough to write about them.

About the same time in early January that my husband lost his job due to a restructure, we officially joined the Sandwich Generation, dividing our time and attention between life here in Iowa, visiting our son in Chicago who is getting married in August, and visiting my father in Wisconsin who moved into assisted living in early January. My father has been dealing with some health issues, so after a family conference we all decided that this was a good place for him to be. Moving is always easier said than done, especially when you’re moving from a house in which you’ve lived for forty-plus years. We are now regular travelers on the roads between Iowa and Wisconsin as we get ready to sell my father’s house. When we can, we stop in Chicago to see our son.

This is also the time of year when our volunteer commitments ramp up; my husband and I are both involved in the creative problem-solving program called Destination ImagiNation, and it is currently tournament season. Between training and appraising and answering e-mails, we find it’s important to take time for ourselves  in order to keep our energy levels high. To meet that need, John and I joined WeightWatchers Online and are watching the line on the graph descend. It’s a good feeling.

There is nothing that is more regenerative to my own spirits, however, than creative expression. As busy as we’ve been the last couple of months, I’m afraid that I have not been writing, stitching or crafting very often. So, I’m more than ready for a new creative challenge. To that end, I–along with 15 other fellow EtsyBloggers–am participating in a journal swap. Not sure what that is? Think about blending an Advent calendar containing 24 secret doors with an old-fashioned junior high-style slam book. Every day for a month, you write a journal entry about a specific topic. At the end of the month, you send your journal to a fellow blogger you’ve never met, and a different blogger sends her journal to you. In the process, you meet two new friends and learn a little more about yourself. In my case, I’ll be sending my journal to a woman from Thailand, a land about which I know very little. I wonder how much she knows about Iowa?

The EtsyBloggers Journal Swap for March is the inspiration of Storybeader, another EtsyBlogger who credits the Web site called Swap-bot for the idea of swapping items through the Internet, but especially ratbrazine for the journal swap twist. I’m sure there are many variations on the journal swap idea, but if you decide to do your own swap, you may find the topic list for the EtsyBloggers Journal Swap to be helpful:

1. Write an introduction or short description of yourself. Include your blog banner and a photo or drawing of yourself. Make this your first entry.

2.  Make a list of 25 things you want to do in 2010. These can be as simple as “participate in the thread every week” or as big as “save up for an overseas vacation.”

3. Cut out a local news article and paste it into your journal.

4. List the URLs of the latest four favorites from your Etsy shop page. Are these items on YOUR wish list, or for somebody else?

5. Copy your mate’s Etsy banner, and make a greeting card with it. Attach it so it can be used.

6. List 10 things you can see from where you’re sitting.

7. Turn your journal around and write an entire entry upside down. Your choice of topic.

8. Make a suggestion about your mate’s blog layout, that you think will help him/her.

9. Take your business card or another marketing tool, and use it as a centerpiece for a drawing.

10. Write down lyrics from a song that inspires you, moves you, or creates a strong emotion.

11. Write about an issue in the world that is important to you, and tell why.

12. Describe your day in one word. Write this word in large letters across the page.

13. Write about another Etsy team to which you belong. Do you recommend this team to your mate?

14. Write about something in your mate’s profile.

15. Write about a project you are working on right now. This could include arts, crafts, a presentation for work, etc.

16. Glue an envelope into your journal and seal a secret inside. When you receive your journal, you can open your mate’s envelope or choose to leave the secret hidden.

17. Write down a recipe.

18. Write about the town where you grew up. Are you still there? Have you gone back to visit?

19. List 10 reasons you smiled or plan to smile today.

20. Write with multiple colors on the same page. Your choice of topic.

21. Describe your favorite place to write in your journal and why it’s your favorite.

22. Attach an artifact you use in your Etsy artwork, and describe it.

23. Write a blog post about a favorite item in your mate’s shop. Write the URL here and explain why you chose it.

24. Tear or cut up a photo and glue the pieces back together randomly.

25. What’s your favorite color? List what you have that is this color.

26. Make a promise to yourself today and write it down in your journal so that it fills the entire page.

27. List 5 books you recommend to your mate and 1 book you hated.

28. Glue in an artifact from your day. This could be a business card from a place you visited, a ticket from a movie you saw, a stamp from an envelope, etc. Tell your mate about it.

29. Make a list of things you sense right now for each of your five senses: touch, taste, sight, smell, sound.

30. Talk about the weather.

31. Press a flower or leaf between waxed paper and attach it to a page.

© 2010 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.