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Finding What Works For You

February 9, 2010

I’ve been thinking a lot about this project lately and the format I chose. I will admit that when I see some of the art other people are doing, sometimes I feel guilty. I love what they do and I feel like maybe I should be more artistic, too. Maybe I should be making mixed media pieces or some beautiful scrapbook layouts. I should at least be printing my work out, shouldn’t I?

But here’s the deal: The format I chose is working for me. Working really well actually. I feel so comfortable with the photos and words approach I’ve chosen that I could probably do a year’s worth of gratitude entries in one night. While this may feel less creative, the greatest thing is that it gives me the space to focus on what matters most: the gratitude. I don’t spend any energy fretting over picking the right papers or embellishments or worrying about whether my art will measure up.

I pick a subject matter, find or take a photo that works and then just write my thoughts. This is what’s most natural for me. It’s the part I struggle the least with and so it makes my system work brilliantly. And if I want to then create a layout about my gratitude topic, well there’s nothing stopping me from doing that, too. But there’s no pressure.

The trick is to find what works best for you. Are you someone who struggles with words but has no problem capturing photos? Great. Skip the words. Don’t force yourself to “improve” while you’re doing this project. The focus of this project is gratitude, not improving a skill or learning a new one. There’s no grade here. If you’re better with drawing, then draw. If you prefer to write in pen, write in pen. Do what works for you.

Do what comes most easily, most naturally.

Not sure what that is? Here’s a way to find out. For the next six weeks, try a different system each week. Here are some ideas:

1. Use Kim’s journaling cards to journal on the computer or by hand.
2. Use my template to do a photo+word combination.
3. Make a scrapbook layout.
4. Do some sort of mixed media creation (quilt, sewing, altered art, etc.)
5. Draw by hand. Sketch.
6. Do an art journal entry. Paint, draw, cut out photos from magazines and glue.

Each week take a note of how the process felt. Was it hard but rewarding? Did you put it off or feel like you couldn’t wait to sit and do it? Did you feel relieved when it was done? How long did it take (did you notice how long it took?)?

Make a note of your observations each week. Then, at the end of the six weeks, pick the one that felt most natural and like the least amount of work. It’s an extra bonus if it felt rewarding, too. But the goal is to make it feel effortless. So that you will keep doing it for the next 46 weeks. You want to practice gratitude. You don’t want anything at all getting in the way of that.

This is the mantra I repeat to myself when I drool over other people’s art. I love it but I know my system works brilliantly for me. It feels effortless to me and when I think of doing it for another 46 weeks, I don’t cringe or panic at all. It feels 100% manageable.

My advice to you this week is to find what works for you. Find the system that’s most effortless and use it. Remember that’s just a tool. The goal is keeping gratitude at the forefront of our lives for all of 2010.

Once you find it, you can even make an entry on how grateful you are for the system that works so efficiently for you.

If you have found a system that works really well for you, please leave it in the comments. It might end up being the best system for someone else, too.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Debi permalink
    February 9, 2010 8:15 am

    Great post Karen!

    I find that when I don’t intend to show my work to anyone, I can take the pressure off of myself and do what I really wanna do… not to get the pats on the back from others. When I decided to get away from being published, this was a HUGE aha for me! I felt so free to do what I felt like, and had no pressure of *oh gosh… Is this good ’nuff? Will people like it? Not like it?*

    Now I am more of a private scrapper and I rarely share my work unless I’m in the mood too. ha! I too see the incredible works shared here, and it makes me wanna *be like that* but when reality sets in, I realize this gratitude journal is for my eyes only, and it takes the pressure off to simplify my entries. I am definately planning on using the templates that were so graciously offered here, and maybe the occasional *wow* page if I feel like it.

    Thanks for the reminder that it’s all about recording what I’m grateful for, more than an artbook.

    Now I just need to start putting my entries that I’ve been keeping in a little journal, into my Gratitude Journal.

    Still lovin the process!


  2. February 9, 2010 10:37 am

    I really appreciate this post, Karen. I have been posting about my gratitude on my blog each week (missed one when I was away, but that’s okay, right ? ;) ), usually including some art work I have done to support it. I have found just the “ritual” of doing this once a week in making me feel good.
    Thanks too for the other gratitude expression suggestions. For now I am comfortable with what works for me but I may need some more inspiration along the way.
    I am grateful for your post today ! ;)
    Cheers !

  3. February 9, 2010 11:00 am

    I’m using your templates Karen – and it does make the job easy. I’ve added pattern paper to the background layer to dress things up a bit, but no embellishments, nothing fancy. I’m also creating my pages when the spirit moves me, as opposed to any given day of the week or any set time frame. It may mean two pages back to back with ten days in between, but I’m averaging one a week, so I feel good about the process. Thanks for permission to do whatever works best for each of us!

  4. Angi permalink
    February 9, 2010 11:39 am

    Thanks for your thoughts today. This is my first time doing the Weekly Gratitude and this is just the pep talk I needed. Some folks are so creative with all their different styles, I tend to feel inadequate with what I do. I am using your templates with photos and journaling, but feeling not great about the journaling piece. I appreciate you reminding me that this is supposed to be easy and it is about Gratitude (not my artwork or journaling). I appreciate you reminding us that we are free to do what works for each of us. Thank you!

  5. February 14, 2010 2:41 am

    Hi, Karen!
    I found your system perfect for this project and I am also using it. When I decided to do it, I could catch up with all the weeks that were late and today I no longer feel pressed – I do a blog post every Monday and I can make the page in minutes on Sunday evening. I still do not print at all, but when I have a few I’ll take them to the lab and print on 4 x 6 to put them in my album. So I can share this project with other people.

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