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“Sometime in your life you will go on a journey.
It will be the longest journey you have ever taken.
It is the journey to find yourself.”

Katherine Sharp Simple Abundance

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magic journal

image courtesy of ancientchildren.com

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Theres no denying, the path to self discovery is full of half filled journals. Each one begun with zeal and promise and oft-times left forgotten under the press of other, more important matters.  The funny thing about journals is that they aren’t a new thing. Writing in a journal has been an occupation which has been around for hundreds of years. The main difference is that they were often called diaries back then.  Many a fair Victorian lady could be seen writing in her diary, her thoughts, her hopes, her dreams and it was a perfectly acceptable, indeed, it was a recommended pastime for a young lady.  They even date back to Roman times and were called  a ‘diurnal’.

So why have they achieved so much prominence now?  My personal view is that many people have taken the route to self discovery and recognised the value of keeping a journal. It allows you to order your thoughts, identify recurring patterns of behaviour or thoughts and allows you to express those inner most desires we often don’t wish to share with anyone else.  They also allow you a path to self discovery and improvement. Recently I completed a 30 day Gratitude Challenge wherein I kept a journal, (a Gratitude Journal) for thirty days.  We looked at the things in our daily lives for which we were grateful.  When viewed from a different perspective it is amazing to find how many things each day we can be grateful for. With the right degree of coaching (suggestions on how to look at the every day things in a different light), it is incredibly easy to find many incidental things we are grateful for, the sunny day instead of rain, the rainy day to water the garden and bring on our plants, the beautiful moon shining down on us, the help of a stranger as we struggle with our shopping, the smile from a waitress as she brings our order, the love and understanding from a husband or wife, the smile and hug from a child. The list becomes endless when you look with different eyes at the world around us.

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ladybug lavendar

image courtesy of inside919.ning.com

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However, we, my husband and I, have had so much fun doing the Gratitude Challenge that we decided to repeat it again.  We are finding more and more things we are grateful for and we are finding ourselves happier each day as we fill in our journal. We are also happier with each other because we have more things we are grateful for about each other!  A wonderful bonus! So we decided it would be even more fun to combine our journal with a personal history.  We had already decided to make a travel journal, recording each outing, however big or small, one picture to act as a memory trigger and writing about the activities and what we had appreciated about them.  In essence, what we were grateful for as a result of our experiences.

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On thinking about what we planned we decided to get a large two ring binder, not a small one since we plan on putting lots into this, and called it a “Living Journal” because it was something we were going to continue to add to throughout our lives. It would be a record of our journey, with gratitude, throughout all the countries and places we visited and recorded in our “Living Journal.”   Sounds great!  It couldn’t be any old two ring binder though. We wanted to make it something special from the outset to match the intent we had for it.

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So we went out and wandered through the craft areas of one of the local shops and gathered the supplies we thought would make this something extra special. We came home with styrofoam and wadding to make it nicely padded.  We found two different types of material to decorate it with, plus some ‘rope binding’ to divide the segments.  We also have some glitter stickers and butterflies to finish off the dressing.   We made a start this evening, getting the foam glued to the folder – and melting some in the process. We learned to be grateful it wasn’t glued to the board we rested it on!  We played around with the material deciding which pictures we might like in each ‘quadrant’ (there will be four sections front and back but not squared off or totally symmetrical since life isn’t boxed up so neatly),  and how it would be finished off with the other adornments.  I  have a feeling we may decide to add to it but that’s part of the fun.

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hand decorated journals
image courtesy of  liesel.typepad.com

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We already have a couple of small outings planned and a slightly longer holiday plus a big eightieth birthday party to attend. Dare I say it, we are almost excited to be able to start filling our journal! The wonderful thing about it is that we can simply add the pages as we like, until it is filled and then we can begin another!  We can use coloured or plain paper. We can each write what we like to add to the photo memory and add anything else which was special at that time. Perhaps an entry ticket somewhere or an information leaflet.  The list is only limited by our imagination and what we are grateful for.

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Now I’m off to bed to dream about decorating my journal,  my “Living Journal”  and,  since I feel I may want to decorate others now I have begun one, I’ll dream of the other also.  I may take lessons in how to make them really decorative and the wonderful things about it is that we can look back on it later and have the memories as fresh as the day they happened.  Lots of work and happy memories.  A “Living Journal”  – what a great idea Ray.

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happy couple in europe
image courtesy of  dexknows.com

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“The heart of marriage is memories; and if the two of you happen to have the same ones and can savor your reruns, then your marriage is a gift from the gods.”
Bill Cosby

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handmade journals

image courtesy of jonnabarnett.blogspot.com

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Nikon P150I recently received a beautiful surprise, a terrific burgundy Nikon P510 with a marvelous zoom lens for close up shots. I should explain that I had a perfectly good “point and shoot” camera which I had used as I travelled throughout the Middle East and Switzerland,taking some memorable pictures which I am quite proud of. So the appearance of this new camera was more than just a little surprise.

It’s strange how much emphasis we attach to certain things when faced by a sudden change. I was thrilled by my first solo overseas holiday so it would have been amazing if I was unhappy with any photos I took at that time. I’m still really pleased with my trusty “point and shoot”, mainly because I didn’t have to think about focus, light and balance. Truthfully I wouldn’t have had the time to do all that and grab a photo, often on the fly. It served me very well and I can recognise everything I took a photo of. Not bad I thought.

So what happened to change the status quo with my trusty “point and shoot”? We moved house, again,but this time we have almost a quarter of an acre with a giant blue gum, an over abundance of palm trees and a gorgeous little pond. This pond has been the reason for the new camera. Each day since we moved here we have a variety of wildlife which comes to visit. Mainly birds, and, so I was told, the hardest of all to get good photos of. Why, you may ask?  It’s really quite simple, they move and fast! They wont take directions and head off just at the critical moment when you have finally set the light, focus and scene…. hence the frustration.

Yesterday we took the sane step of getting the salesman to come out and give us a lesson on the basics, at least to get us started with the camera. For a week I’ve been “playing around” with it, getting familiar with the zoom, and trying to get a few close-ups…. I have some adorable orchids which are a mass of flowers and duly deserve to be preserved in digital format. Not such a big ask I thought.

First we went outside… the lighting was just right and we went to get some good shots of the resident bird life – only there wasn’t any to be seen! Not to worry, we can pick a spot, any old  mass of flotsam around the fenceline and aim and shoot. Just practising our light exposure and so on – really good fun.  Not at all!  Have you ever tried describing exactly the same clump of rubbish attached to a piece of wire on a fence to try yo aim at? It isn’t very easy, especially when you admit to being geographically challenged as I am.  This means that north, south, east and west  are not the best way to advice me to point towards. I’ll inevitably end up facing the wrong way!   Next to the big cut off trunk in the corner of the next paddock, came the final piece of advice. Gret! I found it and away I went.  Not bad considering the frustration of trying to find it in the first place.

The good news was that by the time I had managed to take this one photo of a piece of rubbish some of the birds had heard my unspoken plea and arrived to have their wonderful selves immortalised en camera.

Purple swamp hen  It may not look much but when you’ve been standing, arms akimbo and the tremble has begun to shake the camera around like a flea looking for a meal on a hot summer’s day, you begin to appreciate how difficult it is to get a bird to play ball with you!  The hysterial laughter s I tried to get a bird in flight was just the tonic we all needed. The blur was indistinguishable and deleted after the laughter subside.  Next, in came the pair of wood ducks we think are nesting near the creek.  They are so flighty I almost stopped breathing so I woudn’t scare them away. However, the instructions continued and I managed to capture this….

Wood duck in back yard

Okay, it’s not much for a first effort, but I was rather pleased with it all the same.   I’ll take what comes along my way and practise some more and who knows… perhaps I’ll be able to photograph the moon like I want to next week. Now wouldn’t that be something!

Just to show how much I blurred it all… here is one of the best shots I missed

Blurry birds, courtesy of hypergurl.com I’m told it can be much worse, I know it can because I did it later.

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