Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Last Christmas Pageant: Or Missguided Wisemen, Angry Shepherds, and Baby Angel Wings

In my mind I am 11, but the math says I couldn't have been more than 9 maybe 10. Either way, I was in upper elementary school the year the associate pastor's wife decided to put a new "spin" on the traditional Christmas pageant presented every year at the Christmas Eve service. Preschoolers in cardboard angel wings and bathrobes weren't quiet enough, so we added a bit of creativity.

My best friend, her brother, and I were selected to play three siblings who were so excited for gifts that they missed the true meaning of Christmas. We were visited by a special angel: the associate pastor in a white sweatsuit and the special cardboard wings that were covered in glittered and typically reserved for "the angel of the Lord".

The "angel" narrated the Christmas story to us while our classmates and younger siblings acted it out.

Have you ever read "The Best Christmas Pagent Ever"? If not, you should! While our nativity play wasn't quiet as epic as the one in the book, in my mind, it is close.

My good friend a grade younger than me was selected to play Joespeh and thought himself much to old for the whole production. As a result he spent the entire pageant with his arms crossed and a scowl on his faces The only time he broke his pose is when the Wisemen walked past him. They were supposed to stop and bow down in front of the manger between Marry and Joeseph but I guess we hadn't practiced with every one on the stage. The end result was the wisemen walking right past the baby Jesus doll and kneeling  in the only free space, in front of the Christmas tree.

As if the pastor in sparkling wings made for a five year old girl and misguided wisemen didn't make the night memorable enough, my young brother did.

We were down to the last few moments of the pageant when the baby angels parted to reveal a group of kindergarten "shepherds" hitting each other over the heads with their staffs. My 5-6 year old brother (the senior pastor's son) their apparent ring leader.

To this day if you bring up this story my brother will chime in, "What did you expect when you gave five year old boys sticks?" He will then go on to explain that so-and-so called his best friend fat and what else was he supposed to do?!

Oddly enough, I don't remember doing any more Christmas pageants after that. I'm not sure if I simply aged out, blocked them from memory, or if the powers that be decided to try something different after that year. Whatever the reason that was the last time I remember us doing a Christmas production.*

In the years since I have seen a number of Christmas pageants and productions. They have ranged from adorably painful to spectacular but, none can compare to my memories of the year the wisemen bowed down to the presents and my brother started a sword fight onstage.

*The exception being when my sister directed a Christmas musical with the 5-6th grade Sunday school class, but that is another story for another day.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Ritual of Journaling

I wrote a little bit the other day about perfectionism and how it holds us back from journaling. 

I think we each have a lot of reasons for not journaling. Perfectionism is a big one for some of us. Another thing that has kep me from journaling for years was feeling like it was a chore. I loved the idea of journaling, but actually sitting down to write felt like home work. No fun.

Over the past few years though I have unintentionally developed little rituals that have made time in my journal feel like a mental retreat rather than an assignment.

While I some times journal on the go, I prefer to journal at home in one of three spots: my dinning room table, my office writing desk, or a giant, leather chair next to the front window.

Before I start journaling I make sure I have any and all supplies I might need. Pens, pencils, journal, embellishments, glue sticks, photos, all in close reach. 

I normally keep a drink close by as well. In the summer that normally means ice water, lemonade, or sweet tea/lemonade. In the winter I lean towards hot tea or coffee. 

Good light, a warm blanket in cooler weather, and some quiet music also help set the mood. 

If it's a morning when I feel particularly scattered or distracted I will also keep a note pad or sticky note close by so I can jot down reminders or to dos as they pop into my mind. 

Because I have three kids and a revolving front door with neighbor kids coming and going I expected to be inturupted. Knowing that and deciding ahead of time that inturuptions are to be expected keeps my irritation at bay. Some times, depending on the day and the child, I will invite them to join me while I journal.

Tonight I would encourage you to find some things to add to your journaling time to make it a ritual you look forward to. 




Monday, October 17, 2016

Blank Journals

I love an empty notebook. There is so much beauty and possibility in an empty page. While I enjoy the occasional guided journal, blank journals are what really make my heart skip a beat.

The best thing about good, old fashioned, journaling is that all you need is any empty notebook and something to write with. 

Over the years I have used everything from $.50 composition books to embossed, leather journals with beautifully thick pages. 

That may be the very best part of using a blank book. There is something for every style, need, and budget.

Later this week I will share some of my favorite ways to use a blank journal, some prompts to get you started, and a few extra things.

Tonight though, I wanted to share with you my two favorite styles of blank notebooks to use.

Hands down my favorite style of journal is a hard back spiral bound notebook. 
The thick cover is ideal for journaling because it doesn't require a desk or table for writing, and I just love the ease of writing using a spiral bound notebook. 
As beautiful as some bound journals are, I find them not as easy to use. 
If you are looking for this style of journal I cannot recommend EcoJot enough. I normally get them at Barnes and Noble and currently have one in use and two on hand for when this one fills up. 

The other style of blank notebook I can't get enough of is Traveler's Notebooks or refillable notebooks. I will most likely do an entire blog post on these later. But for now, the basic idea is a sturdy cover (made from leather or stabilized fabric) with elastic bands to hold inserts. The thing I love about these is the varsatiliy. I like be able to have a different notebook for different subjects, but still have them all in one place. 

Which style of notebook do you like to use? Have a favorite? Share it in the comments! 



Sunday, October 16, 2016

Journaling and Perfectionism

I am half way through this series and I have written/posted every day. That's huge for me and I was super excited. Then I logged on today and saw my stats. Right now my posts are being viewed, on average, 5 times each. That's a record low for me. And I was crushed. So much work and my blog is doing worse than it has in years. Seriously? My first reaction was to walk away from the whole thing. I couldn't have been more wrong.

It easy to give up when things don't go the way we hoped. 

Perfectionism kills creativity. 

It's also the main reason we don't journal.

We miss a day.
We make a mistake in pen.
We can't spell.
We hate our hand writing.
We try something new and it doesn't turn out.
We see beautiful photos on social media and convince ourselves we don't have the "right" talent or skills.

Our fear of imperfection keeps us from recording the moments and memories that make up our stories. 

So, I'm going to keep writing here, and keep journaling, and keep trying new things. Because nothing is ever perfect...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Saturday Set Up

So I wanted to show you what this spread looks like after the pen. 

The beauty of decorating/laying out your journal a week at a time is that it makes it super quick and easy to jot down a couple thoughts. 

I love th simplicity of this and the fact it can be as detailed or as basic as I want. As you can see some days I wrote an entire paragraph, other days just a sentence, and today I simple recorded a list of the things that made me happy. 

They say that life is made up of moments, and this is my way of capturing those and jotting them down to remember on a rainy day.  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Q&A Journals

I could probably do an entire 31 days on guided journals, but I have a feeling that would get very boring, so I won't. I do want to share one last style with you before we move on, however.

I haven't used these myself, but friends and family have and they love them. If you are a new Journaler just getting started this is so perfect. 

There is one page for every day of the year.
At the top of the page is a question and bellow is space to answer that question 3-5 years in a row. 

There's only room for a few sentences which makes is an easy commitment. It's also fun to see how you answers to the same question change from year to year. 

The are a wide variety of ranging from general questions, to mom questions, to journals for kids, teens, and college students. 

Come back tomorrow for another Follow Friday! 


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Capturing Stories: Workshop Wednesday



I'm so excited for this workshop Wednesday! If I could I would invite you all over and we would do this one together. In fact as often as I can I DO have people over to do this excercise with with me. 

My friend and I are constantly reminding each other that things are more likely to be used if they are pretty. From cleaning supplies to water bottles to journals we are way more likely to use things if we find them attractive. 

Some times though, it can be really hard to find the time to journal, much less make things pretty. 

When friends ask me where to start, or when I need to go back to the basics, I always go back to the basics.

Finding time to journal a page daily can feel daunting. But taking ten to fifteen minutes once a week is reasonable (and even advisable) for most of us! 

At the top of the post I shared two #beforethepen lay outs. Typically this hashtag is used for planners but I love predecorating journals as well! 
Use whatever tools and tecniques appeal to you. I am a big fan of washi and stickers for their spread. However I have also used water colors and stamps. The best part is that you only make a mess once and then your journal is ready to write in for the week and you will be that much more excited to use it because you know something pretty is waiting for you! 

So this week's excercise is to brew a cup of tea or coffee, put on your favorite song or sitcom, pull out those craft supplies you have been to busy to use, and play for ten-fifteen minutes. 

Of you are brand new and don't have supplies, washi and stickers can be bought at most dollar stores or the dollar section of Target. If nothing else a set of colored pencils can add a splash of color to a page and encourage you to stretch your doodling muscles. 

Trying out this week's challenge? Tag me on Instagram @joyleanne or on my Facebook page. I would love to see what you come up with!