This morning, as I headed out the door to the dentist (yet again!), C locked the door behind me. For a moment, I reflected on the increased ease I have in my schedule. No longer are my days dictated by naps, diaper changes, or babysitters. Though still in the throes of motherhood, I’ve loosened my grip on the reins considerably. I can direct the girls to finish their lessons without me, fix their own dinners, and turn off the lights when they head up to bed long after I’m asleep. With every step towards the empty nest years, they assume more responsibility and I am granted more freedom to rediscover who I am and plot the course for my next chapter.
One of my favorite excavation tools is books. I collect them like a child collects seashells at the shore. I also believe they are among the most personal gifts I give. I am not faithful to one genre, though I do tend to favor books that carry an inspirational message, be they fiction or non-fiction. Amazon loves me. No, they love my credit card. Last year, around this time, I was shopping Amazon for journals for my girl’s Christmas stockings. I looked first for A’s; I wanted something with writing prompts but not heavy or deep. Playful. I wanted playful prompts for my reluctant writer, who happens to be a perfectionist. That’s when I discovered the author, Keri Smith, and her series of playful, inspiring journals.
The first journal placed in my cart was, Wreck This Journal: To Create Is To Destroy. It begins with a warning that, “during the process of this book you will get dirty. You may find yourself covered in paint, or any other number of foreign substances. You will get wet…You may grieve the perfect state that you found this book in….” She dedicated it “perfecectionists all over the world.” The directed activities are “outside the box” play. For example, “Collect your pocket lint. Glue it here.” and “Doodle on the top of: the cover, the title page, the instructions, the copyright page. Fold down the corners of your favorite page.” and “Drip something here. (ink, paint, tea) Close the book to make a print.” Smith’s fun activities, which are afforded ample room on the pages to fulfill, encourage the perfectionist to let go and simply have fun. Though barely touched, I am still encouraging my young, beautiful, analytical perfectionist to play her way through it, and she is learning the only thing shared between perfection and play is the letter p.
The next journal added to my cart would be for my energetic, bouncy C; How to be an Explorer of the World: Portable
Art Life Museum. The back cover states, “At any given moment, no matter where you are, there are hundreds of things around you that are interesting and worth documenting.” Smith’s activities encourage self discovery through observation. She directs her reader to observe and map out the cracks in a street, notice and record color by collecting paint chips and to glue them to the preceding page, and to study the language of trees by collecting various pieces fallen from a tree and playing with them in different arrangements. She wants her reader to not just look at the world around them but to see the world through different lenses. For the writer and world traveler that lives within C, Smith’s book offered a reminder to never see the world through “stale eyes” no matter where you are in the world.
The last I stumbled upon, Living Out Loud: Activities to Fuel a Creative Life , was added to my cart for me, and another copy for my sister. In it, Smith writes,” Play is the most important element is discovering who your are. Play will lead you right into you deepest desires.” And, I love to play. Hidden in the pages are ideas that I have found in other books, but these are wrapped in play and encouraging words. On page 48, she shares “Ten Things I’ve Learned From Women” before encouraging her reader to make their own list. On page 68, she teaches the reader how to make a smudge stick and on 69 directs the reader to “write a letter to yourself in the future…five, ten, or twenty years from today.” My copy is marked with Post-it tabs and is scribbled in throughout. It’s fun. It’s inspiring. It’s my reminder to LOL, Live Out Loud.
How do you remind yourself to live out loud every day?
For more on Keri Smith’s fun journals, visit this link to start you on your exploration: