This one’s almost ready to go. It’s framed in terms of letting go, recognizing growth and moving forward. Reflection in action. I’m hoping it can be used in two ways — to reflect on forgiving others and, perhaps more importantly, on forgiving ourselves. An opportunity to lighten the load a bit, to make room for new adventures.
A peek at some early work on a new set of word-themed pages. For now, the words are: better, essential, vivid, brave, forgiven, and cared for. I’ve been thinking a lot about compassion directed inward — about recognizing courage, taking time to take care, and letting go of the past. It's slow going, but I think that's just part of the process. It takes as long as it takes.
This is the first in a series of interviews in which I ask people, “What does it feel like to be you?”
It’s an incredibly personal question to ask someone (even to ask oneself), but what if it’s precisely the question that could help us understand each other better and connect in more meaningful ways? What if it’s a direct and authentic way to find common ground, by focusing on feelings we all experience?
Ella Rose bravely agreed to help me test my hypothesis by sharing what it feels like to be her.
Ella is a single mom of three awesome kids, a dedicated nurse with more than 25 years’ experience and the founder of the Liminal House, a website that helps people tackle decisions surrounding death. Her future plans include journals, retreats and fundraisers, which will one day fund the construction of a contemplative care home for those dying between the ages of 21 and 55.
When I asked her about the feelings that accompany this current moment, as she juggles single motherhood, a full-time career, and her vision for reshaping the conversation around death and dying, Ella answered with five words:
“I always feel like I have to either improvise or improve or manipulate … in important projects and in my life.”
“All of us, if we’re listening, we’re guided . . . Sometimes it’s louder than others, but you know it’s there. You choose whether to listen.”
“I refuse to feel defeated. Even if it’s something heavy, there has to be an upside. But you have to recognize it and hold onto it. Miracles still happen, but people don’t recognize them. They’re in the little things.”
“It means being in between. In between life and death. As a single mom, working full time, looking for a new job, I’m constantly on a seesaw. It’s hard. It can be scary. It can be challenging, but it stretches me to look at other options.”
“I think I always say what I feel. This is something I’ve had to work on. Why do we lie? We’re afraid. What am I afraid of? Because that’s what’s holding me back. We have to be more real with each other.”
In Ella’s hopefulness, I see parallels in my own life. My hopefulness is also rooted in the little things, in recognizing and holding onto moments that carry me through difficult challenges. I also identify with the double-edged experience of being stretched. It feels like there’s never enough time or resources, but it’s precisely the lack of time and resources that pushes me to stretch myself in new and constructive ways. It’s fascinating to me to see the balance Ella brings to this moment – between feeling stretched and stretching herself, in her hopefulness grounded in reality, and most of all in choosing the in-between, the liminal, as the place to fulfill her vision for helping others in their most difficult moments.
How about you? Have you ever experienced any of these feelings in the midst of new projects in your life? Share them with Ella and me in the comments.
I’ve been feeling the itch to make something new. Something fun and journal-related. Something with pretty paper.
When I pulled out my paper stash, my mini envelope templates were right on top. It got me to thinking . . . How about a journal made of envelopes?
I chose several sheets of pretty paper and my 2.5”x2” envelope template and started tracing.
I figured out the binding pattern as I went along, which explains the big stitch right at the top. If anyone asks, I totally meant for that to be there. It’s decorative.
Here’s the finished binding:
And the finished journal, from a bunch of different perspectives:
There are ten envelopes in total. I just need to decide how to fill each one. Any ideas?
I have an idea for a new journal page (or set!). It may or may not work out in the end, but I thought it might be fun to think it through with you here on the blog this week.
The page started with the idea of a map. Specifically, I was thinking of those lovely illustrated city or country maps featuring a place and a collection of its streets and landmarks. They’re not drawn to scale, but to give the viewer a sense of the place. I love how sweet they are — full of history or natural beauty, or sometimes the illustrator’s memories of places she visited while she was there.
I wondered if that kind of map might make a good journal page — if the main streets could be a way to represent themes or lists, if intersections could represent relationships between ideas, and if important details could be shown on the map as landmarks. I wondered if a sort of illustrated map/journal page hybrid could be a creative way to explore everyday experiences and seek out new insights.
The result is what you see above. It’s as far I’ve gotten. Now that I see it down on paper, I don’t think it’s quite there yet. It’s not obvious how to approach the page and, when finished, I’m wondering if the map works to clarify ideas in a meaningful way.
I think I’ll step away from it for a while, but I’ll be back here tomorrow with new eyes and a fresh perspective. In the meantime, what do you think?
This week, I’m working on a new set of prompts and a tutorial for my mini accordion journals and envelopes. In the meantime, I thought I’d share this little cloud journal I put together with a few scraps from my paper stash. At first, I thought it might be a fun weather journal, but now I think I’ll fill it with my most unconventional ideas. (The list continues to grow!)
What are you up to today?
P.S. If you’d like to make your own mini cloud journal, I’ve posted a quick tutorial and free printable template to help you get started.
My recent experiments with handmade irregular envelopes wouldn’t be complete without a few irregular prompts. I made a super-simple, three-prompt, mini-accordion guided journal to tuck inside my latest teeny tiny envelopes. And the prompts are . . . well, they’re a little unusual . . . a lighthearted look at the words confuse and amuse us.
My word confession for the day is that I’m never entirely sure if I’m using the word “ironic” correctly. (Is that ironic? I have no idea.)
How about you?