Wednesday, February 3, 2016

When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st

I have spent much of the day fighting back tears. In all fairness, this is not that unusual for me. I often joke that my favorite work pastime is weeping openly in my cubicle - not because I have cause to be deeply sad, but because I am so easily moved to tears by music and campaign ads and good writing.

But my high school community lost a beloved, veteran teacher today. He taught us the first sixteen lines of Canterbury Tales and the immeasurable impacts that come when a teacher cares about you not just as a writer and reader but as a person. In the email that went around to the alumnae listserv, the headmistress extolled his commitment to his students - not just in the classroom but at our sports games, extracurricular activities, and summer camps. His life was truly dedicated to serving others - and if his generous laugh was any indication, it was a calling he deeply enjoyed. I spent the day alternately reading Facebook tributes to him and the Shakespeare sonnets they referenced.

Then this afternoon, my organization held its annual service awards ceremony, recognizing staff anniversaries, including a good handful of people who have worked here for 20 years. Our president spoke to their job expertise - whether in Asian politics or office management - and to their dedication to our mission. I always drag my heels about having to go to these sorts of things but then really enjoy them once I'm there. I love the opportunity to see the bigger picture and to get reinspired for my day-to-day work - and yep, I got found myself getting teary at some points.

It made me think about commitment and dedication and the rewards you reap when you invest deeply, over an extended period of time, in a certain place and its people. It made me think about building community and about organizations as communities. And it made me resolve to pursue a career and to live a life as committed and community-supporting as the ones we celebrated today.

Monday, February 1, 2016

A simple year-in-review minibook

I love the idea of Project Life and being able to flip through a year in your life. But I don't have the time or the inclination to do quite that level of documentation. So at the end of 2014 (yep, this post is a year overdue), I wanted to capture the past year on a much smaller, but still representative scale. And I happened to have a letterpressed Paper Source calendar that was the perfect size for a small book.

And so this minibook was born. I chose my very favorite photos for the year, picking just a few for each month, and organized them loosely chronologically. I cropped my photos to 4x5, glued everything together, and wrote a a bit of text capturing the highlights of every month of the year. I loved the way Kelsey's journaling looks in her projects, so I went with something similar. Just a page for each month, single-sided or double-sided depending on how much I had to say. There are no embellishments - I wanted to keep the focus on the words and the photos. It could not have been simpler.

By way of example, here is what August looked like:

Inspired by Kelly's old project life and by an old photobook of Elise's, I included a picture of myself (most of just me) opposite the calendar page every month (except for November where, as much as I wanted to keep it consistent, my solo photo clashed a little too much with the calendar page). I was happy to discover that I have a great collection of photos of myself from 2014 and only a few of them are selfies. The trick is to get over the awkwardness of asking someone else to take a picture of you. They're almost always happy to do it.

This would be a fun project to capture the past year, especially if you have a desk calendar you can repurpose. The best part is, it requires no special scrapbooking skills or supplies - just cardstock, adhesive, a hole punch, and book rings - and you end up with a record of your year that's off the computer and in your hands.

This would also be an idea to keep in mind when you're buying calendars for 2016 - which should either be on sale now or will be very soon. Paper Source unfortunately doesn't make these anymore - they still have a letterpress/gold foil desk calendar but I don't like the size or the design as much, so I am still looking for an alternative for 2016, plus thinking of a way to document 2015 at a glance. I would love to hear any suggestions!