Tag Archives: creative practice

The Documented Life Project: Week 1 Prompt

Week 1 Cover

Week 1 Interior 1

Week 1 Interior 2

I’m a little behind on my postings for The Documented Life Project, so I’m hoping to share both Week 1 and Week 2 today, in separate posts. Week 1 was released on January 1 and Week 2 was released on Sunday, January 5, so I’ve been a fast and furious art journaler.

The first prompt for The Documented Life Project was to create my front door. I spent most of the first week of 2014 thinking about doors and doorways. It was an interesting way to start the year, as I was crossing the year’s threshold. As I was thinking about all that I wanted to be in 2014, the following phrase came to me: “I often live in the liminal space between opening and closing.” After a few moments journaling, I arrived at this poem/fragment:

She knew her body
was a door with an iron handle,
cracked open.

I often live
in that liminal
space between
opening and
closing, entering
and leaving.

I am threshold.

Instead of hovering,
I want to embody home,
to be the golden living room
at dusk. To be the moment we
sit down and play.

My vision for the page was to have a woman’s body peek out from behind a door. I created a woman’s shape using watercolor paper, painted it with watercolors, and enhanced the outline with white acrylic paint. I used the last stanza as inspiration for my color scheme, so I used orange, red, and yellow as my main colors, with black and white as accents. As I continued to work on the page, I adapted my vision along the way. I traced outlines of keys and added layers of tissue paper, in an effort to add texture.

At the center of this page, for me, I think is my desire to live from my center this year.  How does living from my center feel?  It feels like digging into the centers of my experiences, rather than hovering on the outside. It feels like being centered in my interactions with my daughter, my husband, my friends. It feels like knowing who I am at my core and acting from that core. It is rooting myself in a place of love and joy.

August Break, Week 5

During the month of August, I am joining The August Break, hosted by Susannah Conway. I am going to take and post one daily photo to my Instagram and Tumblr. Then, on Mondays, I will aggregate the week’s photos here. See Week 1′s photos here,  Week 2′s photos here , Week 3′s photos here and Week 4’s photos here.

8.26.13 Yes

August 26, 2013 (taken August 27) – Yes
Nora had her first non-family/non-playdate babysitter last night, so that my husband & I could attend a work party. Yes for date night .

8.27.13 Numbers

August 27, 2013 – Numbers
95 degrees & I still exercised after work, for 20 minutes

8.28.13 Smell

August 28, 2013 (Taken August 31) – Smell

8.29.13 Fave Thing

August 29, 2013 (taken August 31) – Fave Thing
I love walking under these #leaves each day.

8.30.13 Sign

August 30, 2013 (Taken August 31) – Sign
Leaf stain in my driveway. A sign of last night’s rain.

8.31.13 Smile

August 31, 2013 – Smile

***

Omigod, you guys, this week. This week almost got me.

Note to future self: the last week of August will always be crazy, as long as I work at this college. Most colleges use Labor Day as move-in day and start classes on the Tuesday after Labor Day. My school does it a week before, so move-in day for non-first years was Saturday of last week and classes started this Monday. This means, of course, that this week included opening convocation (in 95 degree heat), the president’s welcome to the year reception (in 95 degree heat), and a general influx of work as faculty and staff have kicked it into high gear. Plus, it was our wedding anniversary, which included a family date night. And then I fell over.

But, I did complete The August Break with 31 photos in 31 days. I may have taken 4 photos last night, during our evening walk, but dammit, I did it. Last time, I think I only made it through half of the month. Back when I didn’t have a child and I thought my life was busy. Now I know.

I don’t think I’m going to do an August Break wrap-up post. I think I’m just going to drop the mic here and walk out, if that’s okay with you.

Did you make it through August Break? How was the experience for you?
The August Break 2013

August Break, Week 4

During the month of August, I am joining The August Break, hosted by Susannah Conway. I am going to take and post one daily photo to my Instagram and Tumblr. Then, on Mondays, I will aggregate the week’s photos here. See Week 1′s photos here,  Week 2′s photos here and Week 3’s photos here.

If you’re doing The August Break too, please leave a note in the comments, so that I can follow along.

8.19.13 White Collage

August 19. 2013 – White

8.20.13

August 20, 2013

8.21.13

August 21, 2013

8.22.13

August 22, 2013
This is the selfie you take, at the end of a 10 hour workday, as your toddler

chalks on your pants and then your neighbor’s backyard fence.

8.23.13 Sacred

August 23, 2013 – Sacred
Taking my evening walk every night is sacred, especially at the end of summer, when the time for it is so fleeting.

8.24.13

August 24. 2013

8.25.13

August 25, 2013

***

Do you know what ties together most of my photos this week, besides my lack of adherence to the prompts? Most of them were taken at dusk, during my evening walks. This was not because I love dusk or lens flares, although clearly I do. (I think the picture for “sacred” is my favorite picture and collection of lens flares for the week.) It was because I was so blooming busy with orientations and trainings for students that I didn’t have time to take a picture during my work day. Oh yes, summer is very very over.

On the plus side, I took at least one photo every day, and far exceeded it, in the case of Monday’s “white” prompt. For that day, I saw “white” everywhere. I live in a neighborhood with older architecture, so many of the homes are accented in shades of white, as you can see. I also accidentally/on purpose wore my favorite black and white skirt, in honor of the day.

I have six days left and those six days coincide with the first week of classes. I am 25 for 25 right now and I hope to finish strong. Wish me luck and please send me good photo-taking juju.

The August Break 2013

August Break, Week 3

During the month of August, I am joining The August Break, hosted by Susannah Conway. I am going to take and post one daily photo to my Instagram and Tumblr. Then, on Mondays, I will aggregate the week’s photos here. See Week 1’s photos here and Week 2’s photos here.

If you’re doing The August Break too, please leave a note in the comments, so that I can follow along.

8.12.2013 Far Away Collage

August 12, 2013 – Far Away
Left – I live in a small town marked by divisions: a river, a path, and a wall make everyone seem far away from each other.
Right- During our evening walk , bedtime is both too close and far away.

8.13.2013 Home

August 13, 2013 – Home
An hour after bedtime. All quiet, here.

8.14.2013 Stillness

August 14. 2013 – Stillness

8.15.2013 Books

August 15, 2013 – Books

8.16.2013 Floral

August 16, 2013 (taken August 17, 2013) Floral

8.17.2013 Touch

August 17, 2013 – Touch

8.18.2013 Looking Down

August 18, 2013 – Looking Down

***

This week was  more of a challenge than the previous weeks. I knew it was going to be. My best friend came to visit, from Wednesday through Saturday, and it was a struggle to remember to take these photos. In fact, as you can see from above, I was unable to take a photo on Friday, and made it up on Saturday. It turned out to be my favorite photo of the week and it was taken five minutes before bedtime, while Nora slowly devolved into whines beside me. I’m thrilled (and grateful) that I was able to capture this photo.

As August progresses, I know that my attention will be ever more divided. First year students arrive on campus tomorrow (eek!) and I start training my student workers on Wednesday. Then, the upperclass students arrive over the weekend and we start the whole machine up again. I know that I’ll have to take more deep breaths and find a way to remain mindful of the world around me. I think I’ve done everything I can this summer to relax and focus in on what’s important in my life. I’m hoping that I can carry that with me through the fall.

The August Break 2013

August Break, Week 2

During the month of August, I am joining The August Break, hosted by Susannah Conway. I am going to take and post one daily photo to my Instagram and Tumblr. Then, on Mondays, I will aggregate the week’s photos here. See Week 1’s photos here.

If you’re doing The August Break too, please leave a note in the comments, so that I can follow along.

Closeup Collage

August 5, 2013 – Closeup

8.6.2013 diagonal

August 6, 2013 – Diagonal

8.7.2013 Skyline

August 7, 2013 – Skyline – I spent this year in a small town, without a skyline. I’m still feeling that loss.

8.8.2013 Selfie

August 8, 2013 – Selfie – Practicing looking at myself with kindness at the end of a long work day. (A photograph inspired by my experience with the Water Your Soul-Being Seen class I took in April.)

8.9.2013 Taste

August 9, 2013 – Taste – She learned how to walk up the slide this week, against my better wishes. Her first taste of adventure.

8.10.2013 Red

August 10, 2013 – Red

Play Collage

August 11, 2013 – Play

***

This August Break experience has been so different for me this year, due in large part to the two changes I identified last week – Instagram and the prompt words. I’d like to spend a little more time unpacking the two.

I know that there are a lot of passionate thoughts on both sides about Instagram. Instagram versus Flickr. (I prefer Instagram, way a lot.) Instagram for only iPhoners. (I have a Droid.) Instagram as a group of staged, pretty shots that have zero basis in reality. (Probably true for some, but not for me). Instagram as an evil corporate entity out to eat your soul and steal all of your personal information. (La, la, la – sticks head in sand.) I get it. But, I also love Instagram as a means of connecting with others and seeing the daily-ness of our lives. I love how easy it is to find other users, follow them, and have small conversations (if you want). Through using the #augustbreak2013 tag, I’ve been able to find a bunch of new users to follow and it’s led me to their blogs and other social media outlets. And isn’t that what a good creative community and platform does? So, I love my ‘gram and I love how it’s transformed my experience with August Break this year.

Then, there are my blessed prompt words. Sometimes I bristle at prompts, like, “How dare you impose yourself on my process?” But then, I remember, that when I write poetry, I prefer to write in form. The prompt words this year have been like that for me. Each morning, I check the prompt word and then spend my day looking for ways to capture it in a photo. When it’s a color (like yellow last week and red this week), I see the colors everywhere. When it’s a word or an idea (like taste this week), I try to find a unique way to define it/redefine it. As the school year encroaches on my end of summer, I know that having that guidance will help me to remain connected to the project despite my busyness and stress.

Finally, I found myself doing something interesting this week. For a couple of my photos (see Skyline, Selfie, and Taste), I began writing small stone like phrases with my photos, as accompaniments. I don’t think I’ll be able to do it for every photo, and I haven’t this week, but I feel like these could be a project all on their own. Almost like poetry postcards. I may have to experiment with it this week on PicMonkey,when I have a moment.

Onward to this week’s photos!

The August Break 2013

August Break, Week 1

During the month of August, I am joining The August Break, hosted by Susannah Conway. I am going to take and post one daily photo to my Instagram and Tumblr. Then, on Mondays, I will aggregate the week’s photos here.

If you’re doing The August Break too, please leave a note in the comments, so that I can follow along.

August 1August 1, 2013

August 2August 2, 2013 – “Circles”

August 3August 3, 2013 – “Yellow”

August 4August 4, 2013 – “Love”

***

I’m loving the combination of Instagram and August Break, which I didn’t have two years ago when I participated. Hashtags are the greatest ever. I also really appreciate the addition of the prompt words this  year. They’ve really focused my energy and my attention, in a way that I appreciate. There will be days that I use the prompts and days that I don’t, of course, but so far, I love them.

The August Break 2013

My Self-Care Policies

image

Self-Care Policies

1. I will engage in thirty minutes of exercise on most days.

2. I will speak to and about myself in the way I want my daughter to speak to and about herself.

3. I will engage in authentic, creative practice each week.

4. I will do something for self-care (at least) once per week.

5. I will journal (at least) once per week.

6. I will wake up earlier than my family, so that I can have alone time, on most days.

7. I will eat whole foods on most days.

Small Stones #28-31 & Mindful Writing Challenge Wrap-Up

As part of the January Mindful Writing Challenge, I am writing one small stone each day and posting it on my Tumblr. Every Sunday, I will aggregate them here.

I feel like I ended the challenge with a whimper, not a bang. I limped across the finish line on January 31, my last two small stones posted. There were some good elements of the challenge for me and there were some bad, of course.

The good:

— I wrote 31 small stones in 31 days. I can’t recall in previous years if I made it consistently through, “completing” the challenge. But this year, I did. Which means…

— I consistently committed to my writing for a full month. Now, I wasn’t writing sonnets or anything, but I did write daily for a month. That’s nothing to sneeze at, by any means.

— I strengthened my observational skills. I noticed more, even if I had to hold on to that noticing until the end of the day. I don’t know if I can call it mindful awareness, because I wasn’t noticing and writingin the moment.

The bad:

— I quickly translated writing a small stone as I find them to remembering my small stone at the end of the day. This was expedient, but not in the spirit of the practice. Which means…

— I didn’t get what I wanted out of the practice. I wanted more stillness, more wholeness, more presence in my day. Instead, I got half stones that I had to polish nightly.

— The hardest part of the daily writing challenge, any daily writing challenge, is when you begin to resent the practice. There were many times that I grumbled about having to write my sassafras small stone when I really just wanted to sleep.

— I didn’t engage in the community as much as I would have hoped. I miss that community of writers feel to a challenge undertaken communally, but I just don’t have the time to play on Facebook or blos all day.

On to the stones:

January 28

Outside, freezing rain shatters against the windows. Inside, I listen to my daughter and my husband snore.

January 29

I bisect the orange through its equator, pull it apart to reveal two perfect suns. Over my shoulder, she sings its name to me, over and over.

January 30

Snow clings to the black branches, burdens the tree with its weight.

January 31

The pan is hot enough to make a satisfying sizzle. I push the edges inward, watch the yellow liquid congeal and bubble. Two minutes later, liquid transforms to solid, steaming on the plate.

(Belated) Links I Love Volume Five

Each week, I will post links about the things that I’m thinking about, reading, watching, or doing, and of course, they’ll be content that I love. In this practice, I’m hoping to curate my own storehouse of media that showcases my interests. You can find all of the Links I Love posts here.

It was one of those weekends where I didn’t have time to think, let alone write. It was a goof weekend, don’t get me wrong, but I missed posting my links and my last small stones and my next monthly project. Oh, well. Such is the life of a working toddler mama. On to the links…

Education

I don’t really blog much about my work, even though I love it. I think I enjoy keeping my worlds separate. However, I found an article on Inside Higher Education that I must share. This week, a PhD candidate shared her strategy for teaching media literacy and critical thinking through internet memes. It’s fascinating and such a great idea.

Toddler Life

I feel like toddler life should be used as a phrase similar to thug life. Both make you hardcore, right? Through a discussion on Facebook, I was reintroduced to Dr. Laura Markham’s parenting site and this article on toddler tantrums. I tried the caveman-talk strategy she suggests this weekend and it seemed to calm Nora down more quickly.

Birth Story

Again, I love birth stories. And this story from Offbeat Families may be the funniest birth story I’ve ever read. If you ever wanted to know how a gamer would write a birth story, well here it is.

In a totally (and I mean totally) different vein, Birth Without Fear shared a birth story from the father’s perspective. In addition to hearing the father’s telling (unfortunately rare in birth stories), this birth included lots of natural interventions, like chiropractic and energy work.

Creative Practice

This week marked the end of the January Mindful Writing Challenge, (Cue the hallelujahs.) On Writing Our Way Home, Kaspa shared why writing and mindful awareness is good for you. I couldn’t agree more.

On Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Taken (love this blog and its name), Beth shared her struggles with choosing a word of the year. In it, she talks so lovingly about words, I just had to agree. I wonder if the pressure to pick a word by January 1 leaves some of us (me included) with a less-than optimal word.

Self-Care

As part of my effort to find wholeness this year, I splurged on a yearlong online yoga class called Serenity Seasons. I found the class through an ad on Roots of She and I bought it on pure instinct. The instructor, Rachel Hawes, shared on her studio’s blog the connection between her style of yoga and cultivating mindfulness. After reading this post, I thought, Yep, this is the yoga for class for me.

What are the links you love this week?

Small Stones #21-27 (Week Four)

As part of the January Mindful Writing Challenge, I am writing one small stone each day and posting it on my Tumblr. Every Sunday, I will aggregate them here.

As I wind down on the challenge, I struggled to keep up with my writing. A few days, I actually wrote the small stone mentally and then posted it from memory in the morning. When I committed to this challenge, I had aspirations for continuing the practice through the year. Now, I have aspirations to last four more days. Once I reach February, I’ll reevaluate. On the plus side, I have 27 stones for 27 days.

***

January 21

This morning, frost has covered the window panes, made cold white prisms of our condensation.

January 22

Today, I glimpsed the river in my peripheral vision: muddy green with white caps, the edges frozen solid blue.

January 23

Each night, she practices leaving me. She slowly turns around, shouts “bye!” then toddles away. Moments later, she runs back into my arms, only to leave again.

January 24

Making Lunch

One by one, I pluck grapes from their skeleton vine. I love the twist and pop, the slight give before each one separates.

January 25

Our Cat

Short, brown-black fur, speckled with yellow dandruff covers a generous belly that slopes towards the floor. He waddles with every loping step, searching for his next bite.

January 26

Windowsill

Single silver pane surrounded by layers of peeling white paint. The paint flakes and curls, framing the oak tree’s silhouette outside.

January 27

During the Ice Storm

Our sidewalks look like someone spilled a salt shaker over them. Heavy white crystals coat the cement. Tomorrow, if there is sun, the ice will fuse and melt into glass.