Share: The Center of My Heart

Explore: Books Rippling through my Year

The Reverb11* prompt I'm using today is yesterday's from #WEverb11 
The butterfly effect posits that a small change can ripple across whole ecosystems. Who do you credit for the small action that made all the difference in your life this year?

Since I was young, books have played prominent roles in my life. It's not surprising that the ripples I see in my year seem to be like books tossed into the lake that is my life, creating wavy rings overlapping one another. Here’s the list of the year’s books and what the waves looked like:

Life Is a Verb by Patti Digh and
In This House
by Angela Cartwright

In the fall of 2010 I treated myself to Patti Digh's book Life Is a Verb (which I first discovered when I spied it in a photo posted here). In her book, Digh suggests always to have with you a representation of "what brings you joy or holds deep meaning in your life." Her suggestion inspired me to create a pocket-sized collage to symbolize what puts a spark in my heart. First, though, I began researching collage making and wound up discovering In This House, an altered art G&G collagebook that jolted me into creating a large collage focused on my grandparents' house and our family. The collage (pictured at right) was my grandparents' 2010 Christmas gift from me. As 2011 rolled in, I decided on my word of the year: try. To help me keep my goal on the horizon, I created a series of collages around the theme of try. Throughout the year I’ve dabbled with collage and continued researching mixed media techniques.
All this creativity rippled out from Life Is a Verb. 

Final Gifts by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley
(Plus Gleanings from the Library)

In a piece I posted here earlier this fall, I talk about the book Final Gifts and how it changed my experience of my grandpa's death. During several weeks of heavy grief through the spring, I read novel after novel as a way to escape the grief. I seemed to visit the library for a new load of books almost daily. (A few of the novels I borrowed from the library: Jennifer Johnson Is Sick of Being Single by Heather McElhatton; The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank; and, my favorite of the bunch, Sarah Addison Allen's The Sugar Queen.) Mid-May found me sufficiently motivated to attend a short writing seminar hosted by The Loft Literary Center at a local library. Later that same day, I started my blog. Visiting my local libraries definitely helped get me through the grief that rippled through my life early this year. by Karen Walrond

Sure, is a web site, not a book; however, Karen's consistently inspirational, informative and encouraging writing has undeniably rippled through my life in 2011. Aside from daily shots of beauty through Karen's photographs and inspiration from both her images and her words, two significant offerings at helped catalyze change in my life this past year. First, in creating L+E+S, I turned to this Chookooloonks post for helpful advice. Second, this fall I participated in Karen's Path Finder "5-Week Guided Self-Study" e-course, which has helped me broaden my view of my possibilities in life and has helped me fine-tune the intentions I want to set in both the present and long term.  

The Not So Big Life by Sarah Susanka

The idea of acting with intentionality has, in some way or another, appeared in all the books I'm mentioning here, including Sarah Susanka's The not So Big Life. Earlier this year I wrote about how The Not So Big Life helped give me courage to begin meditating. Though I'm not as diligent in my practice as I'd like to be, meditating helps set a calm tone for my entire day and can help me recognize what's most important in my day.

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

A while back, I had started writing morning pages as I worked through the book The Artist's Way. Somewhere along the line, I abandoned my morning writing habit, but the Path Finder course introduced a Chookooloonks way to approach morning pages and got me back to journaling.

All these new-to-me practices—collage making, blogging, being intentional, meditating and journaling—have helped build a stronger foundation of me this year, giving me confidence to create art, to write, and to share it all here at L+E+S. The foundation I have built in 2011 will continue to hold strong into 2012 and beyond, the books' ripples vibrating across the lake and into the years ahead.

Can you think of a small action that created a ripple in your life this past year? Is there a ripple that will reverberate into 2012? Leave a comment here, or connect with me on twitter.

* Gwen Bell started the Reverb initiative in 2009 as a daily reflective prompt through the month of December to guide participants in reflecting on the past year and imagining what's to come in the new year ahead. With friends, Gwen repeated Reverb in 2010; for 2011, Gwen has invited individuals to host their own Reverb initiatives. You can find prompts along with lists of 2011 participants at #Resound11 and #WEverb11. Another source for prompts is Yoga Freedom. (There are probably hundreds of other blogs offering prompts!)