Connections to Handwriting in a Digital World (Part 1)

The art of the written word. When I hear that, I might think about poetry, the structure of a sentence, or the words an author puts in a particular order to convey an idea, a memory, or story.

I also think about the actual written word. Not typed on a keyboard, or phone screen, but written on paper, with pen or pencil, or even scrawled out in waxy blue crayon. (Did you just get an image in your mind from a memory, or a picture currently hanging on your refrigerator?)

I imagine someone sitting at a desk or table, pen and paper at the ready. One arm bent in front, hand steadying the paper. The other hand holding the pen, perhaps tapping their chin as they determine the best way to greet the intended recipient. As they lean over the table, pen introduced to paper, the sound of words flowing out of the pen, floats in the air in a scratchy symphony of thought. A pause now and again to review the words, process the next thought, and the chorus begins again.

Over romanticized? Perhaps. But there is something about seeing words written out on paper or page, that allows a connection to the person who wrote them. There is history in the ink, the words, and even the handwriting, that can be discovered, studied, and enjoyed. This is part of the reason I am grateful that I have a number of recipes in my aunt and grandmother’s handwriting. They were written out by an actual person, who cared to share something they enjoyed, or that I enjoyed and requested.

This is also one of the reasons I put together a journal of sorts, for my girls, and their cousins. This journal has copies of those handwritten recipes, a couple of my own that I wrote out, and some recipes and prayers written by their nana’s hand. I wanted them to know that connection, to know that they were thought of, prayed over, and cared for by her.

It isn’t an archival quality book, but it has those notes, recipes, and blank pages, so they can each add their own favorite recipes as they go forward. I hope they will utilize them, and maybe even pass them on or create new ones for their own children in the future.

Time will tell, and how will the story continue?

Organizing Supplies

Sometimes, craft stores can be dangerous! Walking through those sliding doors begins to open the mind to so many thoughts and ideas, there are endless possibilities! How often have you walked in, told yourself you weren’t going to take a basket (so you wouldn’t fill it), and ended up with your arm half asleep from picking up and carrying all  the supplies you found on sale?

Ahem, me neither.

If you happen to have an abundance of supplies at home, how do you organize them? Where do you store them? 

Sometimes it helps to think outside the box! Look around your space, what do you have available that could be used in a different way than its original purpose?

  • Makeup organizers
  • Glass jars
  • Ice cube trays
  • Muffin tins
  • Flower pots

Between moving, and trying to focus my attention on things, I have downsized  quite a bit, getting rid of supplies that I wasn’t using, but still have some projects that I want to work on, and supplies for those projects that require a spot.

Here are some of the ways I store or organize my supplies.

Vintage Suitcases

I love things with character, and the suitcases I’ve collected fit the bill! Plus, they store most of my seasonal decorations, and various craft supplies. I add tags to help remind me what is in each one, and love to think about the stories they must store as well!

Flower pots and pitchers

For writing utensils, scissors and paintbrushes, flower pots, pitchers, and even coffee cans or old snack canisters are helpful to sort and keep them accessible! My colored pencils are in an old canister that I covered with scrapbook paper, adding a tag and ribbon for detail.

Clear Jars

For some of my baking supplies, I use clear glass jars, in various sizes. This helps keep things organized, but also allows me to see if I’m running low on flour, salt, or baking powder. These could also be used for sewing notions, embroidery floss…so many ideas!

Industrial shoe rack

This was a splurge for me, but when I saw it, I snagged it! I had wanted one for quite some time, and it is a wonderful place to organize some of my more often used supplies. The suitcase on the middle shelf holds some handmade papers and bookbinding supplies, and the other shelves have some boxes with smaller ephemera, some watercolor papers, and my aprons. The small suitcase on the bottom has some of my acrylic paints.

Smaller ways to organize

I recently purchased some watercolor half pans in an effort to organize my watercolors. The pans came with magnets, and I had been given the A.W. Faber tins a while back (thanks Mom!). These are a fun way to keep the colors accessible, and easier to close and place on the shelf. Before this, I had two or three different palettes that held a dab of each color, with the tubes as well. I can now store the tubes in a box, and have one palette.

What are some tips and tricks you use to organize your art and craft supplies? What about your baking or pantry? I have to work on my sewing box, it’s really a mess right now, but that may be another post for another time…

Coffee, Routine, and Gratitude

Ah, coffee. To many, it’s the fuel that gets us started in the morning. To others, it’s a dreamy idea of meeting up with a friend or two, in a cozy corner and comfy chairs, listening to the whir of beans being ground, milk being steamed and watching designs being creatively dropped atop a steaming cup of fragrant caffeine.

And I’m not sure it’s limited to only those worlds. Sometimes it’s a habit, sometimes it’s a hand warmer, sometimes it’s just a way to be social. On any given day, any one of these reasons could be THE reason you hold that cup in your hand, and that’s just fine.

Most mornings, I roll out of bed, get dressed and start the morning routine of making coffee. I’m one of those folks that buys whole bean, grinds it fresh, and uses the pour over method to brew. It’s a fair number of steps, but there is something about that step by step process that is calming, that allows my senses to take in the sound, the smell, the ritual in the quiet morning hours.

The smell of coffee as I open the bag. The sound of the beans tumbling out of the bag, into the small metal grinder, clicking against the sides as they fall into place. The turn of the handle and sound of beans shifting. All details worth noting.

This could be worship. Not to coffee, no, not at all! But in the stillness of morning, in the routine of process, gratitude pours out. Thanks for senses to take in the sight, smell, taste of creation. Thanks for quiet to breathe deep, consider my place, and what I’ve been given. In the hours to come, there will be stress, unanswered questions, fatigue, and more, but in this moment, there is calm, there is peace, there is gratitude.

Our Father, who is in heaven, holy, hallowed, blessed be Your name… in all these things, in all the details of life, You are present. You are near. For this I give You thanks and praise.

What are you reading?

I am making a conscious effort to read more. I don’t think I’ve disliked reading, but I haven’t made it any kind of priority.

As I read more about writing practices, reading practices make frequent appearances.

Over the last handful of years, business books have been on my list, and my bookshelf. Many of them still need to be completed! But the idea of fiction has been laying dormant until recently. I’ve been processing input from authors, noting influence and imagination can be valuable threads to pull from fiction. I’ve completed one book recently, but am looking for some additional titles!

What are some of your favorites?

What are some that you found interesting?

What authors have inspired you?

How long is your wishlist of titles?

Conversation Starter

Can we talk?

Did you want to grab a coffee, or tea, or water? Could we sit and chat for just a few moments?

In this age of social media, there are many voices and viewpoints out there. Some more one-sided than others, some louder than others. Are there any conversations? I mean, real, civil, productive conversations?

Everyone has a viewpoint and opinion, as that’s the nature of being human in this world. We all have experiences that we have come through, and more that we will face, and those shape our reactions, our perspectives, our opinions. But often there is something missing from the picture.

So what’s the conversation starter?

Empathy

Start with empathy instead of the soapbox. Begin with consideration of the other person’s perspective, even if we don’t agree. Empathy doesn’t require changing our viewpoint or opinion. It simply requires we pause for a moment, to look at the person, or hear the voice across from us in the light of humanness.

Empathy doesn’t require changing our viewpoint or opinion

We are all broken in some way or another. We have scars, memories, and baggage that we bring to every conversation or interaction. Often these are much bigger for some than for others. Sometimes they are hidden deep beneath layers and years of bandages: sarcasm, exercise, even smiles. Sometimes they are more visible, recent and still raw.

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
    sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”

Proverbs 16:24 ESV

Perhaps at this point you’re asking what this has to do with creativity, since that’s what I try to draw out in this space. I think that creativity takes conscious effort, regardless of talent or ability. I think that empathy requires conscious effort as well, regardless of how kind we believe we already are.

The other interesting connection here, is the word “perspective.” I’ll leave you to look at the various definitions, but even the description that relates to art could be connected to human interactions.

An object or person that is in perspective has the correct size and position in comparison with other things in the picture.

dictionary.cambridge.org

Let’s keep the conversation going! I’m going to quick grab a refill of coffee, but would like to hear what’s on your mind! Do you need anything?

How do you approach conversations these days?

Afternoon Walks

Looking for details as I walk through the neighborhood, there are so many things to note, observe, and appreciate .

Sunshine and shadow.

So many shades of green.

Clouds in a myriad of shapes and sizes.

Sounds of children playing

And dogs barking

And hawks overhead.

Flowers in pinks, purples, oranges, and whites

Footfalls on pavement.

Progress.

As you move throughout your day, what are the details you see and hear?

Grandma’s Doughnuts

Food and memories go very well together. Mix in some slightly faded childhood images, and well, it’s hard to make it much more meaningful.

There is a recipe that my grandma made. This was not an everyday recipe, that I can recall, but a recipe that she put into use once a year. As the air turned cooler, and pumpkins were ready to pick and carve, plans were put in place for trick-or-treating. 

Now this isn’t a post about being for or against Halloween, it’s simply a memory set in a time and place. I grew up out in the country, with no real “neighborhood” to speak of. There were neighbors, without a doubt! They just lived a little farther down the dirt road, past the edge of the field.

I don’t really know who planned everything, but know that the kids that lived within a couple of square miles would gather at Grandpa and Grandma’s, and either load into a car caravan, or some years a hay wagon, and off we would go to trick-or-treat! We would run up to doors of people who were expecting us. Older folks, and parents of some of the kids along for the ride. All greeting us with smiles and bowls of candy.

Once we made the rounds, we would be taken back to the farm, and when we were smaller, go into Grandma’s house, where all the goodies would be on her dining room table. Popcorn balls, and doughnuts. I’m sure there were other things as well, but the doughnuts were the highlight!

I vaguely recall being in her kitchen a time or two, when the production was happening, and it was a production! I don’t know how many batches she would make, but she would make half of them with cocoa powder, half plain. 

Anyway, back to the recipe… I lived with Grandma for just over a year when I was out of college, and was able to collect a couple of her recipes. This was one of them. She had clipped it from a magazine, but I copied it down as if it was a treasure map. (Which I guess in some ways, it is!) It leads me back to those childhood memories, the sights, sounds, smells of autumn evenings, rustling leaves, children’s laughter and time spent with friends and family.

Where was I going with this?

The recipe… Here are the doughnuts, which for the longest time, I was afraid to even attempt, for fear it would ruin any memory I had. How could I possibly compete with childhood memories at Grandma’s house???

But, you will likely hear me say something similar when standing in front of a task or project that seems scary or daunting: think of it as an adventure! I knew I wanted to try it, and I would still have the memories regardless of how mine turned out.

I was actually fairly pleased! They couldn’t compare with Grandma’s, but they were still tasty! I need to make them again sometime, but will also need to find some folks who are willing to take some. It makes quite a few, and they are best eaten warm, or at least the same day they are made.

Any takers?

Take Time

To pause.

To give thanks.

To consider.

To appreciate even if you don’t agree.

To listen to a thunderstorm.

To just watch clouds go by.

To notice how many shades of green appear in the canopy of a tree.

To notice how those greens change when the sun shines through.

To smell the coffee, before you add water.

And then after you add water.

To actually taste your coffee.

Chocolate? Berries? Nuts? What does it taste like?

To sit and not feel like you should be doing something else.

To rember that being,

is not

a waste of time

Pause.

Take time.

Family Recipe

There is something I gave to my girls, nieces and nephews a number of Christmases ago.

Their nana had passed that September, and I had the opportunity to gather some of the prayers she had written in her journal for each of her grandchildren. I compiled the various handwritten copies of her words, in separate notebooks for each, with the hope that they would know they were loved, and prayed over consistently.

This notebook also contained some of Nana’s recipes. Gingersnap and chocolate chip cookies that she made, often with helpers, as well as some treats that were made for holidays and family gatherings. Some of these were also in her own handwriting. (I think there is a bigger connection when you see someone’s handwriting.)

Here is some additional text that I wrote, and placed in the front of each notebook:

photo.joshuapaulking.com

———–

Before time began, you were written into history.

You are part of a story.

As you became part of this family, you were brought into traditions, conversations, and hearts. You have been part of many family dinners, and holiday happenings. You have been woven into the memory of others, and have made memories of your own.

You also became an answered prayer. Within this notebook are the words spoken in prayer for you between Nana and God. They are surely only a small fraction of the many conversations she had with Him about you. These conversations are here for you to read, remember, and to carry on.

Know you are loved. Know you were chosen to be part of this family. Know that you were prayed for.

Your heritage and your story have begun, but you continue to write it, breath by breath, word by word. 

Remember that words are powerful. Choose wisely.

You continue to write paragraphs, pages, and chapters as you live out each day.

What are the words you choose to write? Your story could help, teach, encourage, and strengthen others.

Seek wisdom.

Do justly.

Love mercy

Be kind.

Love.

Your Story

Have you ever noticed, when there is a story attached to something, it seems to pull the listener or observer in closer to hear the details.

It holds true for me because when I write, or paint, or think, I don’t just think of an object or place, I look deeper for meaning, a connection, a story. I realize that many of the things I have created came with a story, or a story came as I worked on them.

Each of us has our own story. We all have a beginning and are living out our middle. With what has been given, add new lines, paragraphs, chapters.

This is not The End,

it is To be continued. . .

Do you connect more with something that has a story?