A Life List, Not New Year’s Resolutions or a Bucket List

new year resolution

It’s a new year which often means resolutions. A long time I decided that I do not like nor do I create New Year’s resolutions. In my opinion, it was just setting myself up to fail. And fail it did. Miserably. Instead, I’ve been inspired to create a “Life List” which is my version of a bucket list. It isn’t about the things I want to do before I die, but because I want to live. Lesley, at Bucket List Publications, shared a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that I think says it well: “The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.” This applies to my art as well as my life philosophy. I always believe in trying something at least once. I may have fear, anxiety, and nerves about it, but usually, although not always (no spiders for me, thank you very much), the joy of having the experience outweighs the negatives.

Not only did I create a “Life List” of things I want to do, but I created a “Completed Life List” of things I’ve already done! It was awe-inspiring to look at that completed list and realize how much I’ve truly accomplished in my short 36 years. I highly recommend compiling both lists, and as you complete an item on the “Life List,” move it to the “Completed Life List.” The memories that come flooding back each time I read the completed list is one of my most treasured moments. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Life must be lived and curiosity kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.” Here’s to living life to the fullest!

Twitter Chat News & 10 Creative Ways to Journal


There are so many creative ways to journal beside writing in a notebook. But before I talk about different ways to journal, I wanted to share some good news!

Dawn Herring, host of #JournalChat live on Twitter, every Thursday at 5pm, and author of Refresh Journal, sent me an e-mail the other day regarding my post, Journal Writing & Memoir: Using Your Journals for Research.

I am delighted to inform you that your post, which was chosen for #JournalChat Pick of the Day on Friday, 8/31/12, has also been chosen for #JournalChat Pick of the Week! That essentially means that your post will be the journaling resource for next week’s #JournalChat Live which will take place on 9/6/12 at 5 EST/2 PST for all things journaling on Twitter. Our topic will be Your Journaling: It’s All in the Details! as we discuss the importance of including information that informs in our journal entries. I love the categories you offered of scene, reflection and context which can give us new motivation to include more details in our entries, especially concerning conversations, conflicts, and other important life situations we experience….

Your post will be linked on my blog, on the social networks and in Refresh Journal, my weekly e-journal, as #JournalChat Pick of the Day and Pick of the Week.

Pretty awesome! I would love for you to join us Thursday at 5pm on Twitter for the live chat. I’ll be there! Use the hash tag #JournalChat and let’s all talk about journaling and how it can be used in our writing.

On to the rest of our scheduled production….

As I’ve shared before, I love to journal and have been journaling over 20 years (wow…has it really been that long?). My preference is writing in decorative journals (no two covers are alike). The most important aspect of journaling, though, is to find a way that reflects you. Just because someone else does it one way, doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. Journaling is as diverse as we are. There’s no “one size fits all” (which I hate, by the way…have you ever seen those “one sizes?” Who do they fit…the munchkins?). No two journals are ever the same, not even from the same person!

Here are some ideas for different ways to journal:

Traditional Journal – Writing in a journal is the most traditional method. You can pick from a gigantic variety of blank journals (check out the ones at Barnes and Nobles!) or use the infamous Moleskine notebooks.

Art Journal – Who said all journals had to be written? If you have an inner artist (no skill required), paint or draw your life or use whatever medium of your choice. You can add words if you feel like it, but they’re not necessary.

Catch All Journal – This is a book or notebook that is kept with you at all times. Write down your random thoughts, grocery lists, ideas, etc. This book can provide later journal fodder, or just be a way for recording daily life. Get something unique, and that you won’t mind keeping with you all the time. A good size is 5×8 or smaller.

Scrapbook Journal – Don’t let scrapbooking intimidate you. Its a photo-journal, that’s it. Add words, embellishments, or just slap some photos on a page like an album. Do it page by page, or buy scrapbooking albums. Great for the family historian!

Favorite Quotes Journal -Everyone has those quotes that they love. Write them down, and say a few words on what speaks to you about the quote. Is the speaker a hero of yours? Is it something a favorite family member said over and over again?

Family Journals – Keep a notebook on a table or counter for family members to write in. Make sure that each family member writes their name next to or on top of their entry! This is a great way to keep a family history as well, and children love hearing the stories.

Digital Journal – If you don’t fancy writing, why not type it up on a computer. One can add scanned media to entries as well as photographs. You can take this a step further and start your own blog. Blogs are really just journals online. There are many sites available dedicated to setting you up. Most have settings so you can adjust the level of privacy you require. Some people use social media sites as a journal. Be warned however that writing about your inner most feelings and publishing this in the public domain will always carry more associated risk. Personally I prefer to have more control over who has access to my personal information.

Video Journal – As long as you are comfortable in front of a camera this is a very time efficient method of keeping a journal. It is possible to upload all your videos to a site like You Tube which would give you somewhere to “store” the files. One can also mark your videos as “personal” which would mean only you have access to them.

Audio Journal – Some people are better verbal communicators than writers. Voice recorders are fairly inexpensive these days so if you fancy the idea of journaling with audio then there is always this route.

Evernote – If you’re a techie fan, the app Evernote is a great way to create a digital journal with photos, video, audio, written, etc. It allows you to access it from your smartphone, ipad, or computer, regardless of your location. Click here for details on the most straightforward way to use it for journaling.

Many of these ideas can be mixed and matched. Who said you only had to stick with one method? There are thousands of ways to journal; experiment to find which one works for you. It’s your journal, make it reflect you.

What ways have you tried journaling? What’s your preferred method and why?


Are Books Sacred Objects or Just Pulp Fiction?

Reblogged from Anita M. King – Writing Window:

Book lovers — or at least some of them — are up in arms over a DIY craft video that uses books as a crafting material (thanks to @ShelfBuzz on Twitter for bringing this to my attention). In the video, Lauren Conrad demonstrates how to cut off the bindings of books to decorate a storage box, essentially disguising the box as a shelf of books.

Read more… 760 more words

I came across this post by Anita King of Writing Window and I had to share it with you (above).

I have books. Tons of them. Lining the walls of my home office, piled on the floor next to my bed, stacked on the floor and in a basket in the bathroom, in a magazine holder and on the table in the living room, on the dining room table, in boxes in the basement…it doesn’t end. Two years ago, I invested in a Kindle solely for the purpose of reading books and have loved it. If I had the physical book for every book I’ve bought on my Kindle, I’d have to rent a storage unit.  BUT that doesn’t mean I have lost the appreciation and reverence of holding an actual book. The smell of the pulp, the gleam of the ink, the intriguing covers. They still matter to me, but it’s not inherent that I have them, when I’m more concerned about the words contained within.

But could I physically destroy and re-purpose a book for art?

Being an artist myself, I’m reminded of the works of Warhol, Duchamp, and others taking “found objects” and pop culture icons and re-purposing them into works of art, most times tongue-in-cheek. Instead of destroying something, it is elevated into a new idea, a new concept, that opens the mind to things previously un-thought of.

The artist must imaginatively assemble ordinarily unrelated objects or experiences. They must help us look the second time, to explore beneath the surface of ordinary experience. Imagination penetrates ordinariness and things taken for granted. It carries us to the boundaries of what we normally see and inspires us to move beyond the confined commonplace.

If that means desecrating books in order to further the world’s conscience, or even just your own, then by all means, destroy the book. It’s not the physical books themselves that are sacred, but the thoughts and ideology contained within.

Even as our lives become ever more digitalized, the beauty of the printed page continues to hold sway. Take Jonathan Safran Foer’s recent literary dissection of Bruno Schultz’s novel The Street of Crocodiles, which he painstakingly pruned in order to create an entirely new story. Although the concept was more literary experiment than arts and crafts hack-job, the resulting book is a visually stunning reinvention of its preexisting form. To illustrate the multimedia value of this alternative usage, here are ten artists who have transformed traditional texts into works of genuine art.

On the other hand, Kathryn Hughes on Books Blog finds she can’t bear to throw away any book, no matter how bad the prose is or the state of the physical book.

The reason for this self-defeating attitude is, I think, something to do with being brought up to believe that books were almost sacred objects. My parents, who had been children in the second world war, filled my head with stories of how difficult it had been to get new reading material when they were young and so, by extension, what a lucky little girl I was to grow up in the age of the cheap paperback. Later, in school, I heard about how various authoritarian regimes – anything from the Catholic church to Stalinist Russia – had banned books as a way of controlling dissident forces. Later still, as a post-graduate studying the Victorian Age, I learned how the arrival of cheap books in the 1840s had propelled whole swaths of the British population towards self-education and political emancipation.

So to me, books – even bad ones – still equal freedom, knowledge and beauty. And to throw even one of them away seems to me like a crime against humanity.

Thomas Moore likens holding and reading an actual book (compared to an e-reader) to spirituality and a library being the chapel.

In our modern way of thinking, we believe we can separate the contents of a book from the material it’s written on and bound with. We think of a book as information. But anyone who loves books knows that the book is what you hold in your hand and put on a shelf. A library honors a book and easily turns into a sacred place, not too far distant from the sanctuary where I held the big red book against my little head.

When I sign a book — a ritual in itself that I take seriously, almost in a priestly manner — people sometimes tell me that they haven’t read it yet. I always say, “It doesn’t have to be read to be a book. Just keep it in a special place and look at it from time to time.” People know what I mean. I have many books I’ve never read and have no intention of reading. But I keep them enshrined on my home library shelf and would miss them dearly if they disappeared.

For me, a library is a kind of chapel. Spiritual traditions are not as abstract as people think. They are not all about creeds and beliefs. They are concrete, physical, tangible and sensual. There was nothing abstract about that moment in my memory holding the heavy book painfully against my skin as I held it stiff and formal. A library is not an information center, it’s a chapel for books. Your home library, as small as it might be, is also a chapel made sacred by the book itself.

What does this mean when it comes to “re-purposing” books or pieces of books as the materials for a craft project or piece of visual artwork? Is it okay to destroy something beautiful in order to make something beautiful? Or is a book something too sacred to touch for any other purpose but reading?

2012 Summer Still Point Arts Quarterly Review!


An article I wrote about art and censorship was recently published in the Summer 2012 Still Point Arts Quarterly issue. The Editor e-mailed me a review yesterday about this particular issue. I’d like to share this awesome review with you and show that persistence in publishing your work does pay off!

Still Point Arts Quarterly

Issue 6

Summer 2012


Review by Mitchell Jarosz

Perhaps it’s only my personal attention span, but I believe that focused collections of any art can be easily perused and set aside for any number of reasons. A collection of one type of literature or art must be read or looked at one piece at a time and held for reflection. A combination allows for any mood and many returns. Such is the Still Point Arts Quarterly’s summer issue and their idea to showcase their current site exhibit.

It begins with photos from the gallery’s current exhibition (since it’s a real place, this could be its catalogue). The choice to showcase the current exhibition is a very good one; the only down side to such a presentation is the small size of the graphics. Fortunately there’s more access online, and the presentation provides a temptation to go there in order to take a larger and longer look at the quality of the work. Throughout the journal, the photography and pictures capture the quality and intent of the theme; an artist can hold something still: and idea, a moment, a sight.

Since the gallery is physically located in Maine, this summer issue also encourages the reader to take a vacation to the northeast coast. Another plus is the listing of every artist’s website and web address. Even the promo for the texture exhibit beginning in August becomes inviting when you have both pictures and well written text. (I can’t find any of those confusing theoretical/philosophical statements that artists put on their exhibits; you have to like their writers just for that.)

Personally, I believe this is as good as it gets. Poets capturing a moment; writers describing process, painters clearly explaining their work. And a collection that draws one in rather than just publish another issue. How else could you enjoy Charla Puryear’s “a sampling of paintings based on rubbings of trees and rocks” without hesitation.

Peggy K. Fletcher’s poem “Emily Carr’s Struggle” is accompanied by two Emily Carr paintings; K.S.Hardy reviews a collection of Van Gogh paintings for us; Elias Wakan shows us how a journeyman carpenter can make woodworking an art form that would enhance anyone’s private or public space.

Perhaps my responses are neglecting the poets and writers; the visual arts are so appealing and accessible in this work that as much as I’m enjoying the written work, I keep stopping at the visuals. I assure you that I return to both. I read Peggy Martinez’ profile, and then stop to show her watercolors to my wife (at the risk of making comparisons to her work); I read Kat Collins’s comments on art and censorship, pause, and reflect on how the ideas can be taught in my film course. I don’t neglect the writers; this issue of the Still Point Arts Quarterly is like a rainbow: I have to consider one color at a time, step back and look at the whole thing, and forgetfully start looking at one color again.


Today is National Poem in Your Pocket Day!

The idea is simple. On April 26, 2012, National Poem in Your Pocket Day, carry a poem in your pocket and share it with co-workers, family, and friends. On Poem in Your Pocket Day, celebrated each year during National Poetry Month, poems from pockets will be unfolded at events in parks, libraries, schools, workplaces, and bookstores in all 50 states throughout the country. Choose your own pocket poem from Poets.org‘s selection of new printable PDFs—including classic poems from the Academy’s Poem in Your Pocket anthologies.

Poetry is best when shared, and Poem in Your Pocket Day is the perfect time to surprise someone with the gift of Poetry. Each year on national Poem in Your Pocket Day, the town of Charlottesville, Virginia, unites in a day—long celebration of poetry—spear-headed by Jefferson-Madison Regional Library. View this featured video that chronicles the more than 7,000 scrolls of poetry that are distributed throughout the city. For more details about their event and simple ways to celebrate, visit the Poem in Your Pocket Resources page. For Poem in Your Pocket Day events and other National Poetry Month events in your area, visit National Poetry Map.

What poem would you carry in your pocket? Here’s my choice:

On The Beach At Night
by: Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

N the beach at night,
Stands a child with her father,
Watching the east, the autumn sky.
Up through the darkness,
While ravening clouds, the burial clouds, in black masses spreading,
Lower sullen and fast athwart and down the sky,
Amid a transparent clear belt of ether yet left in the east,
Ascends large and calm the lord-star Jupiter,
And nigh at hand, only a very little above,
Swim the delicate sisters the Pleiades.
From the beach the child holding the hand of her father,
Those burial-clouds that lower victorious soon to devour all,
Watching, silently weeps.
Weep not, child,
Weep not, my darling,
With these kisses let me remove your tears,
The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious,
They shall not long possess the sky, they devour the stars only in apparition,
Jupiter shall emerge, be patient, watch again another night, the Pleiades shall emerge,
They are immortal, all those stars both silvery and golden shall shine out again,
The great stars and the little ones shall shine out again, they endure,
The vast immortal suns and the long-enduring pensive moons shall again shine.
Then dearest child mournest thou only for Jupiter?
Considerest thou alone the burial of the stars?
Something there is,
(With my lips soothing thee, adding I whisper,
I give thee the first suggestion, the problem and indirection,)
Something there is more immortal even than the stars,
(Many the burials, many the days and nights, passing away,)
Something that shall endure longer even than lustrous Jupiter
Longer than sun or any revolving satellite,
Or the radiant sisters the Pleiades.