Tuesday, September 21, 2010

lining up & scatteredness

I sorta love how life is lining up right now. Yes, there are scattered parts accented with big question marks, parts that seem not to fit together. I'm choosing to pay attention to the parts that are lining up. Those lining up parts that take my breath away if I think about them for more than a minute. The parts that came from hard work and the parts that came from work I didn't know I was doing. I'm grateful for lining up. I'm grateful for the line I don't see yet.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

documented: august adventure

I finished up another of my minibooks documenting three of my summer adventures. This one is from my annual time at Clare's Well in August. The colors are quite subdued and felt relaxing to me, which is what my time at this amazing place is all about. The pages are also rather sparse - another part of Clare's Well living. It's a simple existence for a week. Just what one needs to feel comfortable, without the distractions that more sometimes creates. Complete book may be viewed here.

I put together many of the pages before leaving. What I did on the trip: Took the Instax photos and backed them with paper. Machine stitched the flowers to the paper and added the circle accent centers. I handwrote and typed my journaling strips add added them to the pages. Each sentence begins with "I. . . followed by action verbs of things I did during the week - like touch, eat, see, hear, etc. I ordered the pages I made there with those I pre-made and the album was complete. Supplies noted at the end of this post.

Simple, repeated design for a simple, yet intricately gorgeous vacation.

Here's what I've noticed: I love this album more and more as the days pass. I was sort of fretting about it on my last day of this trip (as much as one can fret about anything while being at Clare's Well). The issue was it didn't turn out how I thought it would (there's that expectation thing again). But I packed it away in my bag and set it on my desk when I returned home. I opened it up last weekend for the first time and remembered that I wanted to sew two little heart buttons to fabric pocket pages. Sewing those hearts was just what I needed to see how beautiful and in-the-moment the long creation of this album turned out to be. I could remember the evening in June when I sewed the cover, windows wide open and listening to a concert next door at the nature center. And the mornings I got up extra early to glue down the TOAST images, literally feeling how much they remind me of Clare's Well. Some of the text I wrote was already forgotten - and reading it again centered me into noticing and giving thanks for my everyday movements through life.

Now I am willing to let it be what it is: memories and expressions of my love of creating and of a magical place.

The photo only pages are from the summer TOAST catalogs. The images reminded me of Clare's Well, so they were natural additions. The Instax photos were taken this year. The paper backing them is from Sassafras. The beginning and ending rounded-corner photos were from years past. Buttons are a mix of vintage + new. Transparency pages are from Hambly. The scalloped pages are Paper Source flat A4 die-cut cards, which I don't think they are making anymore. Fabric flowers from K&Co are machine stitched to the cards. Flower accents include Jenni Bowlin chipboard buttons and American Crafts Flair badges. Vintage bird card. Martha Stewart fabric butterflies. 7 gypsies mini labels. Album is Maya Road. I painted the inside chipboard covers and machine stitched Amy Butler fabric to the fabric cover wrap. Stapled Heidi Swapp clear butterflies to the front fabric cover.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

first day of school

Even when I wasn't working on a college campus I'd get excited about the first day of school coming around again. I still try to wear a new outfit on the first day. Here's top half of what I pulled together this morning. With a skirt on the bottom. I'm starting my less pants. more skirts + dresses goal for fall right away.

Wait, did I say goal? Ha! Yes I did. This is one goal that I want and makes me happy. I think those kinds of goals are just right.

Friday, September 3, 2010

100% content

This post is philosophical and heavy on personal reflection. Some days, it just comes to me. I gotta go with it.

Here's something I thought about a lot and talked with my friend Tammy quite a bit - the idea of finding balance between constant goal setting and goal pursuing and trusting in the ebb and flow of my life. This has been a tough one for me. Somehow in the process of becoming an adult I developed an odd relationship with goals. What are good goals for me to have? How do I work toward them? What do I do if I'm not achieving them? And what about "just going with the flow?" Isn't that kinda the opposite of all this goal business? And don't we hear that going with the flow is healthier and will allow us more happiness? Shouldn't I just be going with the flow? How do I do that? That seems even more complicated than goals, and I clearly don't have a grasp on those! Why can't I figure this out? Why is finding where I need to be on this spectrum so hard for me?

The connector in me seeks to figure out why and how I don't get all of this. I have a few ideas. One, I'm fairly confident that "striving" strengths are not in my top tier of strengths (I'm using the Marcus Buckingham StrengthsFinder system to define striving). My top five strengths are spread around the other three strength quadrants, but none are in this area. I just don't think I'm much of a striver, and in my mind, meeting goals seems striver-like. Like I said earlier, I really relied on my love of learning in a formal environment to determine goals for me. But when I completed my MA in 2002 at 27, I was really at a loss. No more constant goals set up for me by subject matter experts. I had even met my Weight Watchers "goal" weight at that point. I didn't even have a goal with them anymore. Now I had "maintenance." And when I wasn't falling into line with other goals much of society says I should be attaining at that point in my life - getting married, advancing steadily in my career, having kids - I started retreating more and more into anti-goal living. Letting life just move me along. Society's goals didn't seem to mesh with my day-to-day reality, so I gave up on goals, period. I was like a leaf in a stream of water, powerless really, to whatever the water did to me or to whatever I bumped up against.

Then 2008 rolled around and I experienced what I call a crisis of conflicted thoughts. It lasted for a few months. It was a dark, dark time for me. I had developed pretty good attending skills from past work with a therapist so I decided just to allow myself to feel bad about all the negative thoughts I had about myself. I felt my way through it to the end. And then one day it ended. It was like God said, "Jill, you've thought enough bad things about yourself for a long time now, why don't you try feeling some goodness about your life for a while?" I didn't hear a God voice or anything, but my life started to change. Literally, one day over Memorial Day weekend in 2008 I was thinking horribly negative things about myself and the next day I thought, this is ridiculous, I'm not doing this anymore. That was the day I started learning how to really trust my feelings. And ever since I've been learning how to trust my life. During this time I haven't given much thought to goals. But I have given much attention to feeling content in my life.

So here I am, September 2010. September is always synonymous with the start of school for me. The start of all the goal setting and goal achieving, but most importantly, learning. Learning something even if you don't meet "the goal." I think I've figured out my relationship with goals. I like them for this: "it's my goal to finish these five things before lunch today." That's sorta the amount of power I give goals right now in my life. But I really love trusting my feelings about how my life is unfolding. And I know these realities are always with me: Faith in my abilities and gifts. I'm not alone. I'm loved by myself and others. I have hope.

If you made it this far with me, thank you. You've probably figured out this has been one of those "hot button issues" for me for a long time. I'd love to hear your ideas about goals and trusting life as it unfolds.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


less.more. intentions for September
inspired by Caiti's post

less coffee. more tea.
less thinking. more acting.
less filling up. more clearing out.
less inside. more outside.
less worrying. more praying.
less assuming. more asking for what I need.
less staying up. more sleeping.
less pants. more skirts and dresses.
less it's always been that way. more it can be a new way.
less frown. more smile.

Feel free to pass this on. Is there anything you need less of and more of this month? Leave your ideas in a comment and I'll be happy to keep you mind :)