Are You Happy with Your Story?*

“Story Girl” by Connie S.

I received the most adorable tag this weekend! It came from my penfriend Connie S. I sort of coveted the tag when I saw it in a Facebook photo among several tags she crafted a few weeks ago for a “Little Wings and Tim Holtz” challenge on swap-bot. This one was an extra, so she sent it as a gift as I “get back into teaching mode.” Happy dance!

Connie wrote a note on pretty floral stationery and ended with the question–“Are you happy with your story?”

On this rainy, bluesy Monday when the headaches are unrelenting, it’s difficult to answer when my mood and pain are trying to do the typing.

Interestingly, though, I’ve been thinking a lot about “my story”–the narrative of my life that shapes who I am, my path, and who I am becoming. Particularly, I’ve noticed  just how often other people insist on writing my story or are set on what they think I should do and be; I’ve also taken note of just how often what they think I should do, think, and be benefits them in some way.

Though sometimes [most times, maybe?] individuals are actually advocating for us, I realize if we’re just going along and not paying attention, we can make it easy for someone else to write or rewrite our story. Therefore, we must be intentional about guarding our own developing script.

My life isn’t perfect–it’s certainly “been no crystal stair,” but those ups and downs and all arounds have developed in me a deep sense of empathy and compassion. The questions yet unanswered have taught me to love the questions and either seek the answers with an open heart and mind or patiently wait through the process. I’m learning still that sometimes the answers will come on “the other side of glory.” In my weakest moments, through Christ I’ve found strength–grace sufficient–to overcome the seemingly insurmountable.

I have an amazing family, the best friends, and good energy in my most important spaces. When I count my blessings, they far outnumber my setbacks and disappointments. Even in my most dejected state or my hour of most profound need, my gratitude deepens and widens over the blessed life God has given me and over His indescribable, incomparable love for me.

Am I happy with my story? Yes indeed. I’m not sure I’d know how to behave with a different story.

Are you happy with your story?


*My apologies to those of you who received a draft of this post via email or in your reader. Somehow the WordPress bot decided to publish before I hit the publish button. 

12 Days of Christmas Postcards | Day 4

It never ceases to amaze me how artists can make a complex project seem so simple. Such is the case with this elegant holiday postcard made by my Love Notes friend, Martha S. At first glance, it seems she “just” glued varying lengths of washi tape to the pretty red, glittery twine and adhered it to a piece of [really nice] art board.

“I can do that!”–so we think.

However, when we look closely, we’ll see the strips were made from tears of origami paper. This gave the tree texture and dimension–especially since it was adhered to really nice (and thick) piece of art board. [The card is far more impressive “in person”].

This look is not so easily achieved!

Just for fun–or to make my point–I attempted to make a tree with “plain ol’ washi tape.”  As expected…fail.

Tree fail!

I did this in less than five minutes–that includes looking for materials, which I didn’t take too seriously. 😀 It looks like a sailboat gone awry.

Part of the challenge of making art is accepting that it takes time and knowing how to work the materials you’re using. Magnificence is rarely achieved in under five minutes.

Thank you, Martha, for taking the time to craft many beautiful works of Christmas tree art and sending them out into the world.

For more of Martha’s art and thoughts, take a click over to her blog: Postcards in the Air.

Paper Bag Art: Smile. You Are Unique.

Do brown paper bags inspire you?

I love the message on the paper bag at Chop Chop, my favorite “new” restaurant to get a chopped salad [They only sell salads, so don’t go there looking for chops]. 😉

In short, simple sentences, the bag offers “feel good” advice for living the good life.

There’s too much positivity on the bag to toss or use till it falls apart, so I decided to upcycle it into something that would last “just a little longer.”  With paper and glue, I transformed the bag into art for my inspiration wall.

This was simple to make–I used two pieces of 12 x 12 scrapbook paper, trimmed one to about 11 x 11 and then recycled the chipboard from a package of pocket pages. The bottom layer is a about 12.5 x 13.  After trimming the excess from the bag, I layered everything and applied three coats of Sparkle Mod Podge. I, then, added some embellishments from my stash. All done! [Eventually, I’ll get it framed].

Just in case you have difficulty seeing all the words, it reads:

Smile.You are unique. Discover and pursue your passions. Support your community. Listen and be heard. Be the change you desire. Your time is now. Take a moment and just breathe. Enjoy simplicity. Learn and practice every day. Question the status quo. Climb higher. Leave a gentle footprint. Live free. Eat well. Make amazing friends. Challenge yourself. Live in the moment. Dance when everyone is watching. Be strong. Be loud. Be unafraid. Be relentless. Share your passions. Elevate your tastes. Keep it real. Keep it fresh.

As you can see from the first picture, I have another bag ready to go. I plan to take a completely different approach with that one. For now, I’m eyeing a Chipotle bag for my next “craftsterpiece.”

Have you created anything with a paper bag lately?

Cup and Chaucer: Mini Pocket Flipbook

One of the most enjoyable snail mail projects I worked on this year was a mini pocket flipbook for a swap in the Cup and Chaucer group on swap-bot.  Cup and Chaucer, as you might have guessed, is a group of swap-bots who love mulling over a great literature with piping hot cup of tea.

I’d never done a flipbook before, but my interest was piqued by the theme–books!  How could I resist?  Besides sticking to the theme, the only other requirement was that we incorporate a pocket.

My “receive from” partner, AnnaM, created a beautiful flipbook–lots of purple and gold, pretty embellishments, and many thoughtful handmade items.  Overall, it was an elegant flipbook, nicely presented.

This is how the flipbook came out of the envelope:

Flipbook Packaging

Flipbook Packaging

Here’s the front cover:

Flipbook Front Cover

Flipbook Front Cover

And the back cover:

Back Cover

“There is no scent so pleasant to my nostrils as the faint subtle reek which comes from an ancient book.” –Arthur Conan Doyle

And everything in between [click an image for a closer look]:

Here’s a closer look at some of the tuck-ins [click an image for a closer look]:

There was just so much “eye candy.” I remember doing the happy mail dance when I opened the package.

The swap came at a crazy time for me–April.  The cruelest month. Remember?  I didn’t even see an opportunity to work on it until the mail deadline date.  I ended up grabbing a bunch of supplies on my way out the door one morning, working on it, and completing it in record time in my office (between classes, of course).  I posted it on my way home.

I chose a color pallet and crafted without a plan:

fullsizerender-57

It was early spring and I was happy to see and play with color again.

True to my “English professor” word, I finished the front cover last (I tell my students to write their essay introductions last).

Bookish Flipbook Front Cover

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”  –Charles Williams Eliot

Here’s the back cover and everything in-between [click an image for a closer look]:

My favorite part is Dickens’ Dream by Victorian artist Robert William Buss.  I scavenged it from a mailer from one of the textbook publishers. The curly haired lady was also salvaged from an envelope or the back of a postcard.

The flipbook was 5 x 7 inches, a manageable size.  It was bound with washi tape. I tucked in Jane Austen postcards, Project Life cards, star-shaped Post-it notes, washi tape, and paperclip bookmarks–something else I learned to do this year.

Making the flipbook was an easy and fun activity; I’m looking forward to crafting another one. If you’d like to make your own flipbook and need to see more of the process, here’s the YouTube video I reviewed before making my own:

Doesn’t this look like fun for a rainy day?