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The Cure for Anything is Salt Water…

IMG_5549webBy Karen Hendricks

I’m convinced that scrapbooking is a disease.

I absolutely love to scrapbook, but I never seem to have enough time to keep up with it. That guilty feeling of always being “behind” is awful. (I’m currently about 5-7 years behind, trying to maintain albums for all three of my children, in addition to a family vacation-themed album.) Nevertheless, I keep plugging away. Someday, I’ll catch up, right? The eternal optimist…

And I know I’m not alone. I think every one of my scrapbook-addicted friends is in the same boat. We’re all in this madness together. Part of the struggle is staying organized… downloading pictures, labeling/tagging them, having them printed, finding the right supplies–whether you’re using scissors and paper in hand or going online to “virtually scrapbook”–it all takes time.

However, once I get over all of those speedbumps, finding the time to scrapbook, magically turning my dining room into scrapbook heaven… it truly is a special time to re-live wonderful family memories. Now that we’ve turned the page to fall, I’m trying to organize my summer photos so that when I am finally caught up to present day scrapbooking, I’ve clearly labeled and saved all the photos that I need.

I go for long stretches without doing any scrapbooking, so when I do get back into it, I sometimes need a little inspiration to get me started. Ideas for layouts as well as theme-related quotes or titles give me a jump-start.  So my friend and fellow blogger Ruth kindly loaned me some of her gorgeous scrapbooks. I’ve snapped a few pictures of some of her layouts, combined with mine, for a little summer scrapbook inspiration (both digital and traditional).  I also compiled a list of some of my favorite beach-themed titles and sayings. I hope you enjoy both!

Feel free to “comment” and share your strategies for scrapbooking organization and/or inspiration… scrapbook “addicts” need all the help we can get! 🙂

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Summertime / Beach Titles and Quotes:

  • A day in the sun
  • A day in paradise
  • Beach bums
  • Beach babes
  • Basking in the sun
  • Happy as a clam
  • You are my sunshine
  • Beating the heat
  • Sizzling fun
  • No school! School’s out!
  • Tank tops & flip flops
  • Time for bare feet
  • Sandy toes
  • Catch a wave
  • Lemonade and lazy days of summer
  • Hot days and cool ice-cream
  • Summer Breezes
  • Castles in the sand
  • Blue skies & sunshine
  • Sun, Sand, Sea
  • Surf’s up
  • The ocean heals the heart, mind, and soul. (unknown)
  • “The cure for anything is salt water–sweat, tears, or the sea.” (Isak Dinesen)
  • “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” (Mother Teresa)
  • “Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone.” (unknown)
  •  “The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” (Jacques Cousteau)
  • “Eternity begins and ends with the ocean’s tides.” (Unknown)
  • “The beach is not a place to work; to read, write or to think.” (Anne Morrow Lindbergh)
  • “If you want to know how much I love you, count the waves.” (unknown)
  • “One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach.” ( Anne Morrow Lindbergh)

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Related posts:

Vacation: Same Time, Same Place — Next Year!

Summer Memories

Dreaming of Summer: Vacation Tips

Priceless Treasure: Tips for Great Family Photos

Picture-Perfect Gift Ideas

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“Summer Fun in Your Own Backyard”

Find simplicity and balance in your summertime activites

Find simplicity and balance in your summertime activities

By Jennifer (Smith) Schuler

We have been reading and sharing many bloggers’ stories of graduating children, growing pains, and emptying nests. I feel a little left out because my son is only 3 years old. However, though I don’t have a child heading off to college, my family is preparing to feel a similar financial strain when he begins attending private school in the fall.

For us this will mean we need to shift our priorities in some areas of our household budget. Although little tweaks can make big differences in a bottom line, we fear there may be no grand family vacations for awhile!

Therefore I have been thinking about what we can do for some family fun – not only closer to home, yet perhaps even right here in our own backyard. With a little clever thinking, I’ll bet my young son won’t even know the difference. All he’ll know is that he is having a great time!

It’s wonderful to be able to get out of town and escape with your family on a fun-filled vacation during the summer. Yet sometimes that just isn’t possible – either with work or other commitment schedules, or because finances are tight. Here are some ideas for how to have a little summer fun with your children – right in your own backyard! Remember, summertime is for slowing down and letting go of some of those school year stresses. So as the famous song goes … “don’t worry, be happy!” Enjoy just being together even if you are simply hanging out and spending uninterrupted quality time with each other!

And don’t miss a photo gallery at the bottom of this post, illustrating all of these activities!

Turn Your Location into a Destination!

+ Add a twist to what your children learned during the school year. Just because school is out doesn’t mean the learning needs to stop. Kids learn best through play and engaging in the world around them anyway, so this also doesn’t need to come in the form of an indoor rainy day lecture. My son studied metamorphosis in preschool so we spent time around our butterfly bushes looking for different species and checking them out as they gathered nectar. Since the bushes border our deck, we sat leisurely at our picnic table – sharing snack while we observed nature around us hard at work!

+ As you spend time outside, tell your child a story. When you create a story from your surroundings, it is almost like you are in a book and gives a new twist to story time. You can create one based on a story you already know – such as the heart-pounding adventure tale we spun about the great giant Abiyoyo – or make up a new one. Either way, it’s fun to narrate your playtime!

+ Invite a close family friend to visit. Sometimes just a fresh face in your house – and someone new to play with (and spoil) your children brings excitement!

+ Turn unexpected expenditures into unique adventures! When we lost an enormous tree due to a summer storm, our planned trip out west was cancelled by the $4,000 removal bill. Instead of taking a family vacation, or purchasing the playground set we wanted, we let the chopped logs and sawed off stumps entertain our son. In fact, he continues to play in that area and doesn’t beg for a jungle gym! You’d be surprised what a child will enjoy doing using common outdoor and household items.

+ Let your children help with outside (or inside) chores, and teach them new responsibilities. Chores do not have to be mundane; my son and I have sung, danced, and paraded our way through many a household task. They also don’t have to be complicated. Whatever the experience, though, make it age-appropriate, simple (for a young child), and most   important – fun! My son loves to garden with his daddy, and is learning lots about nature and caring for the land at the same time.

+ Introduce a new outdoor toy. New doesn’t always mean large, complex, or expensive. We bought a nice sand & water table for a reasonable price. It came with a sun umbrella, sand tools, and water toys! Being able to relax in a comfy deck chair and watch my son enjoy the simplest of toys already had me less worried about entertaining him through the summer. Your child can even have water play in a tub filled with bubbles and bath toys if you can’t get outdoors or make it to a pool.

+ Eat ice cream! Need I say more?

Take a Trek Around Your Neighborhood for More Fun!

+ “Dine out” at an unexpected (and less expensive) place. My son and I have taken to eating an occasional lunch or dinner at our grocery store. You know the familiar saying, “Never go shopping when you’re hungry.” We have taken that to heart, and to him it is pretty cool!

+ Or just eat in! For a true money saving meal, we have started cooking more at home. Teaching your children to cook is one of the most important life skills you can help them master. There are also many “academic” skills you can subtly weave into food preparation – from reading (recipes), to math (measurement), to critical thinking (what to do if an ingredient is missing). Move your meal outdoors to put a unique spin on the usual dinner routine. Picnic table or picnic blanket – either way will give your kids a thrill!

+ Check out your local library’s summer class schedule. Ours runs classes for all ages year-round yet during the summer, program themes increase and so does the fun! It is good for your children to hear new people read, as well as to experience activities and crafts led by someone other than their parents. These classes have saved our rainy days and our let’s-get-out-of-the-house days, yet they are good for any day!

+ Let your children see you having fun! Once in awhile, take your child with you to a class (as long as it’s okay with your instructor, and safe and appropriate for kids to be present); or let them see you engaged in a hobby or exploring an interest.

+ Make a friend! Even a short, low-key play date with a new pal can make for a more interesting and lively day!

+ Dress-up, arts and crafts, and indoor/outdoor games are engaging and fun. Although I don’t consider myself a “crafty” or “athletic” person, I do try to offer my son materials to create various forms of art media and engage in a variety of physical activities.

+ Simply relax. In our society, often motion = productivity or fun. Yet just slowing down a bit during what is supposed to be those “lazy, hazy” days of summer can be refreshing. Wind down, take time to smell flowers, and nap. At the very least you’ll have energy for all the fun you’ll be having with your family in your backyard!

Hopefully some of these activities will bring you and your family a simple, inexpensive, and fun-filled summer. You may find that it takes less effort to entertain, keep happy, and even tire out your children than you think. Enjoy!

Click on any of the thumbnail images below, to open a photo gallery:

What are your ideas for simple, inexpensive summer fun? Please share with our community so we can all get ready to hit the … well – backyard!

Tie-Dye Easter Eggs

By Karen Hendricks

Just like your favorite t-shirts: tie-dye Easter eggs.

Just like your favorite t-shirts: tie-dye Easter eggs.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s still fun to decorate Easter eggs whether you’re 3 or 93. With two teenagers and one almost-teenager in my household, there’s a lot of growing up, going on. As much as I enjoy and celebrate my children growing up, notching accomplishments and developing character, there are aspects of childhood left behind that I dearly miss–such as making craft projects together, coloring, painting and drawing. So the wonderful, annual ritual of making Easter eggs brings us back together for a “craft project” of sorts once again.

We have had fun making a wide variety of Easter eggs through the years, but one of our favorite methods is tie-dyeing Easter eggs. The colors are brilliant, each egg’s pattern and coloring is unique, and there is no right or wrong way to tie-dye… So it’s a winning formula.

Tie-Dye Easter Eggs:

You will need: food coloring, vinegar, paper towels, foil and hard-boiled eggs

1. Protect your work surface with newspaper. Tear off a piece of foil that’s slightly larger than the size of a paper towel. Place a paper towel on top of the foil. Pour a few drops of vinegar (3-4) towards the middle of the paper towel. Put 8-10 drops of food coloring in the center area of the paper towel, allowing some of the colors to overlap slightly, spread and mix.

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2. Place a damp egg on the paper towel and very gently, press the foil around the egg until it is wrapped.

3. Carefully peel back the foil and towel and place the egg on a clean paper towel or a stand to dry completely. You can usually color 3-4 eggs with the same foil/paper towel before the colors muddy and/or the foil becomes worn. You can vary the effects, the color combinations and the folds in the foil.

The end results - eggstraordinary!

The end results – eggstraordinary!

Tip: Use rubber gloves so your fingers don't get stained.

Tip #1: Use rubber gloves so your fingers don’t get stained.

Tip #2: Use upside-down egg cartons as stands to let your eggs dry.

Tip #2: Use upside-down egg cartons as stands to let your eggs dry.

Show us your Easter eggs! Snap a photo (or two) and upload them to our Facebook page to share your family’s creativity.

Wishing you and your family a wonderful spring season and a Happy Easter! 

“Lose the ‘Boob Tube:’ Alternative Activities to Engage Your Children”

By Jennifer (Smith) Schuler

Photo Credit: Chris Stein, Getty Images

Photo Credit: Chris Stein, Getty Images

When it comes to television, I’ve gotten the ‘eye rolls,’ the “Oh, come on’s,” and just about every comment in the ‘pro-television’ corner … yet not from my son. Rather, these comments have come from other parents I know. Most people find a hard time believing that my son will be 4 years old soon and he still has not watched a television program or a DVD, nor seen a movie. That’s why, while discussing this with a mother at church this Sunday, I was shocked when she responded, “Good for you! I wish I’d done it.”

Although I have run into some like-minded moms, in general most parents I know have set their children in front of the television before the age of 2 – some as early as 1 year old or younger. Some have rationalized their decision with, “But it’s Sesame Street!” Others with, “Yes, but my baby is learning so much from those Baby Einstein DVDs!”

Now don’t get me wrong, I have my favorite Sesame Street character, and I think that the developers of Baby Einstein had a great concept. However, when interviewed about why they are making DVDs for such young children, even though developmentally it has been proven to be inappropriate before the age of 2, the creators of Baby Einstein had a ready response. Since they know parents are going to let their children watch anyway, they wanted to create something that (and this is a real big paraphrase here) wouldn’t be too bad. Huh…

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children under 2 years old not be exposed to media of any kind, and screen time for children older than that should be limited – kids 2 and older should watch no more than one to two hours daily. Despite that recommendation, the average American child watches three to four hours a day.

Very few children’s television programs are interactive. In fact, they can actually delay a child’s development in some areas. Think about it: most television programs flash rapid-fire images and concepts at a child to the point where their mind has no time to process what is happening – let alone respond appropriately.

I subscribe to Baby Center and in their “TV-watching guidelines” web article, they state: “The best way to approach television is to think of it as refined sugar. You want your kids to enjoy the seductive stuff without consuming it to excess.” This makes sense, and my little boy will certainly soon get to enjoy TV time. However, as I think about how much time he will spend watching television, and how I will keep his viewing time and content under control, I believe it is best to start out “tough” from day one. It will be much easier to relax my standards later on than to tighten the reins.

Baby Center has several excellent ideas for monitoring your child’s TV viewing, including choosing what to watch and your role.  They also have two other articles I highly recommend reading: TV for Kids Filled with Social Bullying, Study Finds” and “What to Watch: The Best Children’s Television.”

Here are several alternative activities you can use to engage your children and keep them busy in another way – even if you really just ‘need a moment!’

1)      Put the focus on reading ~ Most little ones I know enjoy story time. You can read to them, together, or have them read to you. Even if they are too young to be reading other than from memory, change the words around, or vary the story line – remember this is creating a strong foundation and enjoyment for reading. The myth that you must be sitting next to your child listening and watching as he or she experiences a book is not true! It is perfectly fine for you to ask your child to read to you while you are preparing dinner. No direct eye contact necessary!

Little Drummer Boy

Little Drummer Boy

2)      Invest in upbeat, interactive children’s music or story CDs ~ This develops their auditory learning, and gives them freedom to create images in their mind. Some come with a book and your child gets to hear someone else read to them besides you. These also tend to be slower paced, allowing more response time for your child.

3)      Invest in a child-friendly musical instrument kit (Target has some good ones) ~ Even if you have to “grin and bear” the noise for a bit, your child will love ‘playing along’ to a favorite CD or just making up their own tunes. Add a ‘marching band’ stroll around the house!

4)      Lay out miscellaneous craft supplies ~ Construction paper; small pieces of thin cardboard; fun little bits and pieces for gluing (buttons, felt pieces, googly eyes, stickers); scissors; glue and paste – let your child have an unbridled craft fest (parental involvement not necessary)! It doesn’t matter what they create, just that they are being creative!

Making Christmas Cookies

Making Christmas Cookies

5)      Venture into the great outdoors ~ Your backyard is fine and if you don’t have one, the nearest local park is great too. Children need to expend (lots of) energy and what better place to do that than outside. I have to force myself to do this on days when I am not up for a trek in a light drizzle, getting bundled up against the cold air, or am just plain tired. Yet when I see the joy all over my son’s face once we’ve stepped outside (in all kinds of weather), I remember what it was like to be a kid again.

6)      Cook or bake something together ~ Believe me, this is certainly my greatest weakness, yet I have found that simply letting my little guy stir up some powdered muffin mix in a bowl, and help me add a splash of milk and crack an egg is all he needs (besides to taste one when it’s finished) to feel like a real chef!

7)      Play a game, put a puzzle together, or build something ~ There is so much your child (and you!) will learn – about social skills and about each other, when you take time to play together.

Helping Mommy Houseclean

Helping Mommy Houseclean

These are just a few ideas, and of course you likely have many more to add. Let us know what you do when it is time to turn off the ‘boob tube’ – we would love to hear your activity suggestions!

And – for another perspective, check out fellow blogger Jen’s post: Setting Limits on TV and Video Games (or How NOT to Win Mother of the Year).

Icy Artwork

My daughter Kelly created Christmas-themed ice art, winter 2010.

My daughter Kelly created Christmas-themed ice art, winter 2010.

By Karen Hendricks

The saying goes when life hands you lemons, make lemonade… So when mother nature brings cold weather your way, embrace it and make a (temporary) piece of artwork out of ice!

This is a project my children and I have made many times through the years. I think we originally stumbled upon the idea in Family Fun Magazine. But I don’t think this project is only for children… I think children of any age, including us moms and parents, can get our creative juices flowing with this one!

Here’s how:

Materials needed:
Pie pans
Cookie sheets
String, yarn or fishing line
Fruits such as berries or sliced citrus
Natural items such as holly leaves, nuts or twigs
Water

1. Arrange your fruit slices, berries or natural items in a pattern of your choosing, inside the pie pan.

Orange, grapefruit and cranberries form a geometric design

Orange, grapefruit and cranberries form a geometric design

2. Take a length of your string, yarn or fishing line. Knot the ends together, tightly, to form a loop. Place one end of the loop inside your pie pan. -Or- Thread one end of the string through your citrus slice and knot your string so that it’s anchored to the orange or lemon.

3. Place the pie pan on a cookie sheet and then transport outside in the cold. Even if the temperature is below freezing, avoid sunny areas.

Warning: cranberries may result in PINK ice art! But this recent creation tied in nicely with Valentine's Day.

Warning: cranberries may result in PINK ice art! But this recent creation tied in nicely with Valentine’s Day.

4. Very slowly, pour water into the pie pan so that it’s deep enough to cover your design, about 1/2 – 3/4 inch deep. Make sure that the string is going to freeze within your design. If your design shifts when you pour the water, slide things back into place or wait an hour or two and rearrange when the water starts to turn icy.

5. Check your project in several hours or leave it sit overnight. (OR: Freeze your project in your refrigerator’s freezer.)

6. Dip the pie pan under hot water at your kitchen sink and loosen the ice from the pie pan.

7. Hang your icy artwork on a porch or from a shepherd’s hook for a beautiful, winter time decoration!

This project will “hang around” for several days (or even weeks depending on your climate) if you have an extended period of time when the temperature is below freezing.

If you try this project, I invite you to upload a photo to our Facebook page and share your creativity!

Write Away! : “How to Journal” Part Two

By Jennifer (Smith) Schuler

Photo Credit: Flickr.com, by buechertiger

Photo Credit: Flickr.com, by buechertiger

There are many reasons why people keep journals and it only takes a few moments to “get something off your chest,” reach a decision, record a special time, or capture a moment. You need not be a “good writer;” journaling is a relaxed activity. Our blogger, Karen, even likened blogging to a more modernized approach to writing!

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In Part One of this series (Click here to read Write Away: “How to Journal” Part One), we gathered the materials we need to get jump-started on our way to journaling. Then we looked at where, when, and how to begin recording our thoughts. Finally, we set about starting our writing from lists and “seed phrases.” ‘CCBLITTLE’ shared that she tries to write every morning before the rest of her family wakes up because it helps her start the day feeling more connected than if she just rushes headlong into her to-do list.” She also keeps a stack of favorite books nearby to “seed” her thoughts when she wants to be a bit more introspective.

Now, here is additional inspiration and suggestions for getting your thoughts flowing and down on paper! I pick up with #4 of 5 components to the journaling process.

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” H.D. Thoreau, Author/Poet/Philosopher

4) More Inspiration

Looking/staring at a treasured object or an old photograph may bring inspiration. All objects have a story. You can create a ‘structure’ around which to write about them – a time period, details, people present around you. These are your memories … a link between past, present, and future.

*Your Turn: Go on a “treasure hunt” around your home – I guarantee you’ll find something to write about!

Many different stories can come from the same object, experience, or picture. Additionally, just one of those can trigger many memories surrounding it. It can further jump-start our writing on many different topics – all stemming from that one thing or experience.

Looking at objects or pictures is also a useful tool by which to trigger our memories and can even give us a great story idea. By using “clustering,” or story mapping, we can generate a list of ideas that can lead us to individual stories or one story which is a composite of those stories mingled together.

*Your Turn: Take a blank piece of paper and draw a circle in the center. Now draw several connecting lines outward from the perimeter to other circles. Leave room inside each circle to list a few words. In the center circle list the name of the object or picture you chose. In each of the outlying circles, list a word or even a few words that come to mind as you look at it. Be sure to use your 5 senses if you have an object! There it is … the beginnings of your story!

You can also create a timeline as inspiration for writing about a specific time in your life if that is the direction your journaling is taking you. Throughout our lives, we experience events and happenings that shape us. Some are dramatic – a loss, a powerful life lesson. They impact us not only in that moment but over time as well, and change us and our lives permanently, whether for better or for worse. Some are less notable – simply a brief “Ah ha!” moment that we process quickly and take with us on the rest of life’s journey. Often these experiences confront us with a decision to be made – a ‘right or wrong,’ a ‘left or right.’ And these turning points can be major or minor. They can have a big impact on our lives or a small one.

Turning Points can be categorized and broken down into three general life stages:

Childhood (birth to approximately 12 years old)

Adolescence (approximately 13 – 21)

Adult Years (21 to present)

Personal narratives can be generated from any of the ways you get your ideas. As you go through your life, you are always writing “the next chapter.” All of your experiences and interactions (no matter how seemingly small and insignificant) are part of, and have a place in, your story. All of us have a story to tell – one that is important and valuable.  If we leave our stories untold, we may never know what kind of a lasting impact they can have on someone’s life outside of our own.

*Your Turn: Choose one timeline from above to write about. Try to write uninterrupted for at least 15 minutes.

The World is a great book, of which they who never stir from home read only a page.” St. Augustine, Scholar/Philosopher

5) Some Final Seeds and Lists for the road!

Seeds:

For once in my life…                           A current obsession

A childhood pleasure …                    Once upon an autumn time

A road not taken…                              A favorite meal

Once I traveled…                                At this very moment

*By taking a Seed and “entering into the scene” we have an opportunity to expand on it. As an example, use one of the following Seeds. Remember to use vivid imagery!

My mother gave me

An old pair of shoes

Waiting

*Nouns preceded by an adjective can also serve as a Seed:

The gold leaves

The empty bowl

Lists:

I delight in…                                     I like most to…

Home is…                                          All things chocolate…

You should be off to a good start now!  

Feel free to share more of your journaling time ideas with us – we’d love to read them!

In one of my previous blogs, “It’s the Little Things That Matter,” I promised I would show you the last page of the journal I kept while at a remote ecumenical retreat center in Wyoming. As you can read, below, this was a time of great upheaval and pain in my life, yet I found that attending a spiritual retreat and journaling about my experience brought a sense of healing and closure so I could move on with the next chapter in my life.

Here it is – enjoy your writing time!

The culmination of a powerful and healing retreat

The culmination of a powerful and healing retreat

 

“Write Away: How to Journal”

By Jennifer (Smith) Schuler

We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”  T.S. Eliot, Poet

Have you ever been really upset and wanted to “get something off your chest”–without actually telling somebody? Or been confused about which decision to make or direction to turn in your life? Perhaps you have simply wanted to record a special time, or capture a moment you witnessed, preserving it in your mind forever.

All of these reasons and more are why some people choose to keep a journal. Others may feel they don’t have the time or inclination, or believe they aren’t a “good writer.” However, it really only takes just a few moments to journal and the best part is there is no experience required!

If you have ever considered putting your thoughts to paper, there are many ways to journal. There are also several components to this process – which is not really a process at all; it is indeed an easy-going and relaxed activity.

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About 15 years ago while living in Tallahassee, Florida, I saw a ‘Life Stories’ workshop for women offered. Since I am a writer I was curious, and the description sounded intriguing, so I signed up. To my surprise, I found that women who were not writers or didn’t necessarily find writing interesting had also come!

The workshop was offered by Katya Taylor who had a Master of Education and simply liked to journal and write. She also knew how to inspire and teach others to do it. Her workshop was amazing, as well as remarkably inspirational and healing. She encouraged us to share her methods and spread the word, so to speak, and about 3 years ago I developed a course curriculum for a writing workshop using Katya’s teachings as a beginning point.

The most important thing I learned from these workshops is that everyone’s story is important and worth sharing. At the beginning of the workshop Katya said, “Every time a person dies, a library burns.” I couldn’t agree more, so here are some basic journaling concepts to keep in mind when you think about putting your pen to paper – and preserving your library and life!

Write Away!

We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already.”  J.K. Rowling, Author

1)In the beginning…

I know this famous author scrawled the beginnings of her Harry Potter series books on napkins. And, I encourage always being ready to jot down a spur-of-the-moment idea. However, you may wish to keep these more “stable” items handy:

+Notebook (for jotting down anything you’d like to remember)

+Writing Journal (make it special – one you will want to open again)

+Pencils and Pens (for writing – and illustrating!)

*Now that I have shared this suggestion, it is your turn to get jumpstarted on your way to journaling. So take a moment to gather at least one writing implement and find one small notebook, notepad, or journal you can stash in your purse or bag.

It takes courage to grow up and become who you truly are.” E.E. Cummings, Poet and Painter

Journals come in a wide variety of forms.

Journals come in a wide variety of forms.

2) Writing tools, spaces, and time

The place where you write generally does not matter but should be somewhere you are comfortable, and where you can focus and write undisturbed. The time of day you choose to write may vary. Sometimes, you will get a brainstorm unexpectedly and want to write wherever you are – hence, the use of a napkin!

Journals come in many forms, as well as shapes and sizes.

*Your Turn: Look around your house to identify the place where you can write without interruption. Also, as much as possible (I’m thinking especially about anyone else who has a 3 year old at home!) determine a general time when you can write. Is that in the evening, when everyone else has gone to sleep as it is for me? Or are you an early riser who sneaks out of bed before everyone else begins stirring? Can you snatch a few moments in the middle of your day? Finally, choose where you will record your writing – now you have a good excuse to visit that cute little book and gift shop in town!

Everyday courage has few witnesses. But yours is no less noble because no drum beats before you and no crowds shout your name.”  Robert Louis Stevenson, Novelist/Poet/Essayist

3) Jump-Starting Your Writing

Most writing comes from memories and experiences. We can “jump-start” our writing by re-connecting with those times through pictures, objects, imagery, our 5 senses, and phrases (what Katya called “Seeds”). Many times Seeds generate writing from a part of our life – our writing is just a ‘tidbit’ from a bigger picture that can eventually become a Narrative.

There are many ways to begin a journal entry. Keeping lists is a good start.

*One running list I keep is of phrases and famous quotations I come across and like. I use them to inspire my writing and thoughts. My latest favorite quote is: “The best way out is always through.”  Robert Frost

*Your Turn: Start a timer for one minute. On any sheet of paper, list as many ideas you can come up with to finish the list phrase I love to

Next, choose one item from your list to expand and write upon for 5 minutes.

If you have something on your mind (and even if you don’t), try writing from a ‘seed phrase.’ It is a little like a sentence starter from which many of us wrote essays in school. These are really just “writing prompts” and brainstorming! A few examples:

  • Once I found…
  • I remember a room…
  • Looking back I…
  • On a sunny day I like to…
  • A favorite garment…

*Your Turn: Pick one Seed from the list above and write for 5 minutes uninterrupted. See what you come up with!

You are now on your way to journaling! In part 2 of this series, I will provide you with several easy ways to get inspired to expand your writing further.

In the meantime, please share your experiences with any of the above activities and I will be happy to incorporate them into the next blog ~ Happy writing!