Monday, March 16, 2015

grateful :: January prompt

January prompt is done (why, it's only the middle of March after all).

I normally follow Ali's directions pretty close with just a little variation when necessary. This time the definition of my word was pretty short (three lines), so there was no way I could make it a whole opening page. I just put there a photo enlargement with my word (in Russian) and a year (2015) instead.

 Then goes the story of how I found the word. I cut an 8,5x11 page protector into 5,5x11 and secured the opening with a tab.

I know you can sew along the edge or use some washi tape to cover the cut, but surprisingly, that label holds it really well and you can't say the cut side of the page protector is open at all.

When you turn this page you can see my word in English and the part with little cards and pictures.

Another page protector cut from the top and secured with the tab.

The first task was to write out the definition of my word {GRATEFUL}. It's in English, so no need for translating here.

 Then comes the Invitation card (about the things I'd like to invite into my life). It says:

1. love

2. truth

3. patience. calm

4. courage

5. joy
Then the Quotation -- mine doesn't have {GRATEFUL} in it, it's just the reminder of what I'd love to be like:

She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
Proverbs 31:25

I also decided to go black and white this year plus aqua as an accent color (as it's the color of my album, the color of this cool plastic heart from Ali's Gatherings Story Kit and, hands up, just my favorite color of all).

When you turn the page you can see the next spread:

The heart represents love (of course), and I chose pictures to remind me to:

- love God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind.
- love myself.
- love my neighbor as myself.

The Let Go card is about the things I'd like to let go of:

1. perfectionism

2. feeling that i'm right

3. complaints

4. anger

5. tension

 The Reason Why card is about my reasons for choosing {GRATEFUL} as my one little word this year:

to come closer to God

to soften

to fill my heart with love and gratitude

The next page is this fill-in-the-blanks:

 In what ways is this word already a part of my life?

I'm really grateful that in every situation there's always a chance to learn to love more. I'm really grateful that there's always a chance to change.
I'm really grateful for my family.
What do I want less in my life? What do I want more?

More calm. Less anger.
More funny. Less serious.
Less perfectionism.
More truth.
Less imitating. More of my own.
Less panic. More doing.
Less complaining. More embracing.
Less stuff.
More happy.
 What am I most excited about in 2015?

I'm really excited about a chance to change my character and be happier.

And scrapping tons and tons.

And starting a blog.

What do I most fear in 2015?

I fear that I won't make any layouts or albums, will just get distracted and procrastinate and plan a lot, but do nothing tangible.

I fear that I won't find my own path, that I don't have enough talent and knowledge and experience to make something interesting.

I also wrote out my intentions in Russian.

I really love this January prompt -- it feels so good to actually write it out. Writing has always been one of the only two ways of processing information for me (the second one is a heartfelt conversation). Really, I can't figure anything out unless I write it down or talk about it for quite some time.

And which prompt is your favorite?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

one little word 2015 :: GRATEFUL

I did it! I just signed up for Ali Edwards' One Little Word workshop.

I took part in it back in 2014 and loved it, but this year I was going to stop shopping online as we were trying to save money.

However, we paid off our debt much sooner than expected, and the first thing I thought of was this OLW class. I know, two months passed and we're already half into the third one, but I really believe it's not too late to jump in.

I actually chose my word in November 2014 while reading this post by Ali Edwards (yes, this name appears on this blog much too often, but, well, Ali is my mentor; no, she doesn't know about it yet).

It resonated with me from the very start. I remember reading these words -- 

...the key, I think, is to practice savoring moments and being grateful both when you're in the mess and when you're not in the mess. Do it when it's hard. Do it when it's easy. That's what makes it a practice... 

--  and thinking: "Gratitude! I now know my word for the next year". 

I loved the idea of such a practice. I, too, want to be the person who, even in the middle of all the crazy, can take a deep breath and be thankful. 

I started the year writing out my intentions and trying to live my word instead of making an album devoted to it entirely. I thought that I'd be just fine all by myself, and that a little journal to jot my thoughts down would be more than enough.

It wasn't. In my mind, I kept wishing I was there with all the guys from the class. There is something about having a community of people on a journey together, although I was never posting anything on Facebook, just reading. I also missed Ali's monthly videos.

There is this other thing, too -- I realized that there's actually a point in making an album. I first thought it was a bit too much. It took me ages to finish every prompt, I literally spent hours looking for the right photos to illustrate my ideas and to edit my texts. I thought it wasn't worth all the trouble (as I was doing in just for me, not for anyone else to look at), that I could just live with my word and write how I'm doing in a journal.

However, this year, after looking through my 2014 album I actually felt great. So inspired and thankful! It's worth every minute spent working on it, every bit of effort I invested in it, because it really makes a difference. I was looking through it and felt all sorts of feelings. It really makes my word more tangible, it really resonates with me, touches my deepest feelings. I learned so much about myself and my life, I actually changed enough to start a blog and keep it going, to overcome my perfectionism and JUST DO instead of thinking and planning and gathering and then almost doing what I was going to do. I learned that a thing done imperfectly is way better than a thing that could have been done perfectly, but wasn't done at all.

I'm so happy I'm now in! Downloaded the prompts, watched the videos and started doing all of them at once. January and March already finished (sharing tomorrow if the light is good enough to photograph), and the magazine for the February prompt is already bought.

Have any of you guys taken up this class a few times, too? Have you missed it if you skipped a year? I'd love to know!

Monday, March 2, 2015

february reflections

Each month I'm going to look back at my 2015 intentions, see how I'm doing and set some more specific goals for the next month.


Come on, this was my most important goal, but I haven't really made it a priority. I'll try again this month.

get out of debt

Done (here's how).


Not too bad! At least three layouts, and a few more I haven't shared on the blog yet (a two-pager which I just can't find the right patterned paper for the background of the left page, and an introduction to the whole Komissariat History which I'll share on the blog a bit later). I also signed up for One Little Word workshop as we're now debt-free (more details coming soon).

blog daily

Ummm well, epic fail here. only 8 posts this month! It's been a tough month for me in terms of me time. Sensei working away from home and me falling asleep exhausted at the end of the day instead of writing posts at night as I would usually do -- that sort of thing.


Sort of lost my track on this one, but not completely, not hopelessly. Got the balcony in order (which I thought was impossible), got a lot of things out of the house (gave away or just threw away). 

letting go of stuff

I really wanted to take pictures of my scrap supplies and post them for sale, but the huge amount of them made me procrastinate. I'll try to come up with a strategy for this.


Absolutely not. A huge coffee drinker this month, all the time. I got a lot of coffee beans as a gift and in order for them not to lose their freshness I really had to use them up. So I completely forgot about tea.


Learning that it takes time to change. That no one is going to be perfect, never, and it's totally okay. That I should always keep on trying.


Eating out a bit more often than is good for me (I can't order healthy food and I have to try everything, especially in a new place). It reminds me of how in one of Murakami books a beautiful middle-aged woman ordered white fish and salad with just a drop of dressing... she was lean and trim, but never on a diet, just decided once and for all to pay attention to what she was eating. I love that. To pay attention to what you're putting into your mouth -- goes really well with all my attempts at being more mindful. Gotta try this attitude.


Sensei recorded a 15-min workout video for me, so while he was away I'd play this video and try to do what he was doing. Honestly, that's been such fun.

go to bed and wake up early

Epic. Fail.
The only way for me to get some time at my computer is at night when the kids are sleeping. Nothing else works. Sad, but true.


Reading Beyond Portraiture by Brian Peterson (loved Learning to See Creatively: Design, Color and Composition in Photography long ago, and now long for Understanding Exposure).

All right then! Here come

MARCH INTENTIONS (and how I'm going to make them happen):

Love: make a calendar where I could tick off every day I read the Bible and watched Lazarev. Take notes as I do. Make them into art prints, make them visible, tangible reminders.

Relationships: kids. I need to be more present. I'll try to go for a walk every day after breakfast, preferably to the forest.

Scrapbooking: OLW tasks (Jan, Feb, Mar), PL spreads (Jan and Feb).

Blog: every day.

Home: photograph my stash every day for 15 min.

Tea: read the book and jot down important stuff.

a getting-out-of-debt year turned into a year of flowers

As most of you already know, Sensei and I officially proclaimed this year a GOOD (Getting-Out-Of-Debt) year. 

We were really determined to pay off our credit card and developed a few strategies to make it happen (like not buying anything except absolutely necessary things; selling things we don't need etc.) We were doing really well for the first month, and I was going to share the process here on the blog in a hope that it could help people who were also going to get rid of their credit cards forever. 

However, this just wasn't destined to be.

It so happened that my mom got a huge bonus at work, and she gave us some money (nearly $1500) as a gift. Together with what we managed to save (about $500) it was right enough to cover our debt. End of story.

Yeah, it does seem a bit like an anti-climax, because well, I can't write a post like "if you want to get out of debt, just wait till your mom gives you the money". 

I tried to explain to my parents that it was too generous, and that we felt too much obliged, but it didn't work out well (my mom was really hurt that I was trying to not accept her gift, and after she actually started crying I gave up and decided to just be grateful for this unexpected surprise).

So after the card was destroyed, Sensei and I decided to take some action to show our gratitude. This is how an idea of a Year of Flowers instead of a getting-out-of-debt year came to life. 

We bought a vase and the best fresh roses we could find, went to my parents' home when they weren't there (I have an extra key from their apartment) and put the flowers on their dining table. From then on, we would put fresh flowers into that vase as soon as the previous started withering, and every time my parents sit down to eat they can enjoy fresh flowers as a reminder of our immense gratitude. So far I've only got roses (trying to buy a different variety every time), but I'm really looking forward to spring in order to get some tulips and peonies and all other gorgeous blooms that the season will bring. I know my mom loves fresh flowers, and I'm so happy that we can now afford buying them for her all year long. This makes me feel a bit better about this whole thing.

So, while I can't share tips and tricks on how to get out of debt for a year, I can at least share an idea of how to show your gratitude to someone special. "A year of flowers" sound pretty nice to me.