Monday, June 29, 2015

Make Monday Magic

There is only one time of the week that is harder for me than Monday morning and that is Sunday night, when the weekend is coming to a close and I know that my busy workweek is just around the corner. It's not that I don't love what I do between Monday and Friday, but that I have so many other things I love to do, too and I can't seem to squeeze all of those in to the 48 hours we call the weekend.

So, when I saw a journaling kit called "Make Monday Magic" appear in my Facebook feed this month, I was intrigued. While I am a diligent journal-er in the context of my Project Life albums, I struggle with keeping a regular written account of my life. When I am working on my album, I include funny stories, quirky moments from our week, captions that fit the photos I am sharing - and while I am honest in that space, I don't include a lot of writing about my struggles, the little moments in each day, or even my hopes and goals.


It's not that I haven't tried to keep a journal in the past - in fact, my bookshelf is full of notebooks with a page or two of writing, nearly blank sketchbooks, and other journals that were, "just to pretty to write in." But until Make Monday Magic, what was missing from my attempts at journaling was a system.

I think the reason that I am so successful in recording our lives with Project Life is because the system is already defined for me. I know that each weekend, I will sit down to record the week before, in two pocket pages. I have developed a routine for editing my photos and printing them, for photographing my pages and sharing them with you here.

Journaling has never been a ritual for me but that is about to change.

In her introduction to the kit, Sara Blette, owner of Make My Notebook and creator of Make Monday Magic, explains that "inside this box you'll find my ritual to start your week off on the right foot; a way to jump-start your day with positivity and learn how to find calm within the chaos that comes along with life. By taking just 15 minutes each Monday morning and following these simple instructions, you'll transform your mindset, be more productive, reflective and thankful."

15 minutes a week? I can do that.

I don't want to give too much away about this "just enough" journaling technique but I will tell you that Sara put thought into every part of this journaling kit. Not only do you receive instructions on creating a journaling ritual of your own, and a beautiful journal to do it in, you receive a fun purple pen (because as Sara says, life is too shirt to write in black ink), 12 gratitude notecards that moonlight as inspirational artwork and Altoids, because there is no better way to journal than over your morning coffee and who wants coffee breath?

Thinking back to why I am successful with Project Life, I realized that in addition to having a system, I have a community. That is why I am inviting you all to join me in a closed group where we can share how we are making Mondays magic.  You can click through to join, or leave a comment with your email address to receive an invitation.

Ready to order your own journaling kit? Buy it here with free U.S. priority shipping.

So tell me, do you keep a journal? How often do you write?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

When I Am Drowning

Writing about my life, and my struggles, with chronic illness is not easy. I worry about putting too much negative into the world. I worry that my words will sound like complaints. I worry that others will pity me, or grow tired of my stories. And yet, when I am brave enough to share, I find only positivity.

Last week, I shared a piece of my story on Instagram. I shared a story that I have told many times but that I cannot stop telling. Do you have one of those? I shared that I began Project Life because I didn't want to live a life that I would forget.

I shared that at the age of twenty-two, my doctors approached me about my memories - they told me that my mind, in it's own act of self defense, would choose not to remember the months that had recently passed, or the months ahead, as my body struggled to physically get through each day. Even at that time, I knew that they were right. The fog that had settled into my body, had also settled into my mind, and it took constant effort to remember the words I meant to say, the instructions for taking my medication, when my next appointment or scan was. My mind had no capacity for the everyday.

And so, though I was sick, I kept living, and I began documenting. I told myself then that it wasn't about documenting the big moments or my happiest days, but about documenting the everyday. It was about documenting the good alongside the bad. For me, the promise to document it all meant documenting doctors appointments and MRIs. It meant documenting the first time I had to take an incomplete in graduate school, in the same week that I documented my first standing ovation after speaking to seven hundred people about how scholarship funds meant that I could get medicare care and an education.

I confessed that i isn't easy to document the hard stuff but that I do it because I believe in the value of those moments. That, I know, in twenty years, when I flip through my albums and look for the moments that defined my life, it will be these. I know that the days which seem the hardest now will be the ones I look back on with the most thankfulness.

When those words were re-shared today, I received a compliment greater than that standing ovation. A friend, who I did not know before these words, told me:

"Your words inspired me so very much. I have met incredible people, seen things, felt things, experienced such love, kindness, and overwhelming support. I realized that not documenting (my illness) is also letting go of the amazing. Like you, I would never want to forget any of that... You really have had a life changing impact.. I cannot thank you enough for helping me start my journey." 


And while those words said so many things, what they told me was that even when I feel like I am drowning in this illness, my story is worth sharing. And so is yours. (I no sooner published this post, and the rain stopped, revealing a rainbow.)

Because I shared a piece of my story, someone else is going to take the time to record her own. Along the way, I hope that she will find value in her illness, but also, the value in sharing her own story.

This month, I am contributing to RuKristin's Find Your Voice workshop, a workshop for anyone who wants to find their own storytelling voice, and I would love for you to join me. This week, I will share why my stories mean so much to me.

What stories do you want to tell? What do you want those stories to look like? Register for the class and get those stories on paper.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

#myselfiescrapbook | final blog hop

It's kind of surreal to think that today, we are all sharing our finished #myselfiescrapbook albums. This project has been such a fun break from my "norm" and while I'm excited for some extra time to devote to my weekly album, I've enjoyed this project, process and community so much.

These pages cover the last two weeks of the project. You can see my first week of pages here, and my second weeks of pages here. All together, my mini-album contains nineteen front and back pages, as well as five front and back inserts.

I plan on putting it back into my wooden album covers but need to find larger rings -- this mini-album ended up being chunkier than I expected. Not that I'm complaining.

Details: all inserts created with the Photo Fuse Tool
Details: Flair from Studio Calico, "Currently" and "Eating" stamps from Kellie Stamps
Details: Alpha and Number Stamps from Kellie Stamps
Details: Wooden flag from Studio Calico, "The Little Things" from Color Cast Designs
Details: AM/PM stamp and asterisk stickers from Studio Calico
Details: #myoilylife stamp custom designed by Kellie Stamps
Details: + paper from the Teal Lime Press (download here), flair from Love A Flair, "Currently" and "Reading" stamps from Kellie Stamps
Details: "Here" acrylic and "In My Cup" veneer from Color Cast Designs, Midnight Edition cards cut to 2x2, Project Life Date Stamp
Details: "Details" frame from Color Cast Designs
Details: "me today" veneer from Color Cast Designs, "Same Chic" card from Big City Quiet Designs (download here)

The Blog Hop

Julie | Kellie | Mandy | Jessica | Jodie

Share Your Pages

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thrive | Ways to Help

Two weeks from today, I will be undergoing my third neurosurgery in less than ten months and I could use your help.

In 2015, I chose "thrive" as my intention for the year as 2014 had been about survival. When I set that intention, I didn't realize the challenges I would be facing this year.

In July of 2014, I underwent ten hours of brain and spine surgery to correct a congenital condition called Chiari Malformation. While the surgery was not intended as a cure for this incurable disease, we did not expect that I would get worse rather than better, nor that my medical bills would exceed $50,000.

On April 17th, I learned that the surgery to my spine stretched my tethered spinal cord, causing irreversible damage to the nerves that control my bladder, and my legs. This past weekend, I flew to New York for a second opinion at Weill-Cornell, one of the world's top neurosurgery hospitals and my diganosis was independently confirmed.

On May 19th, I am scheduled to undergo surgery in New York, to release my tethered cord. The surgery is not designed to improve the symptoms I live with daily, like unrelenting leg pain, but to ensure that I am able to walk in the future. As a 23 year old graduate student, I do not have the resources I need to make this surgery happen and so, my brilliant and talented friends have rallied together to help me.

How You Can Help

Purchase a tee shirt. These American Apparel tees feature script from Jodie of Polka Dot Creative and can be shipped anywhere in the world. Shirts are available in styles for men, women and children, in a variety of colors. Each shirt features a message of awareness on the back, as well. Womens tees purchased before Friday May 8th should arrive prior to my surgery date of May 19th for U.S. customers. 

Purchase a 'thrive' stamp from Kellie Stamps. Kellie Winnell of Kellie Stamps has created a wooden mounted rubber stamp featuring the beautiful script of Jodie, as well. All proceeds from the sale of the stamp will benefit my surgery.

Purchase a 'thrive' wooden veneer from Color Cast Designs. Featuring the same script, these buttons measure 1.5" and are great for scrapbooking, Project Life, or your planner. Use "Thrive" at checkout and receive a credit toward the shipping of your entire order.

Purchase a digital product from the Thrive Etsy Store which features 8x10 and 5x7 print options, as well as a variety of Project Life products. Every cent of each digital purchase goes directly to my surgery costs and you will receive an instant download for the file of your choice. Contributors include Laurel Lane Designs, Artful Leigh Creative, Alex Hunter Designs and Cindy Backstrom.

Purchase an 8x10 fine art print of the New York City Skyline by Olya Schmidt of Paint Paper Studio. Olya created this painting as a tribute to the city where I will be having surgery. The watercolor also features shades of purple, the awareness color for chiari malformation. Her painting is reproduced as a press print on fine art paper. 

Purchase from Stella & Dot and 25% of every sale will be donated.

Have Questions?

If you have questions about products or fundraisers, or if you are interested in collaborating to further help with my surgery costs, please do not hesitate to contact me by email at and I will get back to you as promptly as possible.