NOTE : The following feature was originally
published May 9, 2007 as part of my AEzine newsletter series. I
will be periodically bringing content back from the archives,
updating/adapting, and re-publishing here.
Yesterday I spent some time digging in the dirt. I always feel really alive when I am outside planting, watering, puttering, etc.
While setting up a new schedule this past week I was able to allocate time (also known as "make time") for two of my favorite things that make me feel whole: reading & gardening.
I grew up in a home that definitely advocated getting outside: swimming, gardening, weeding, bikes, fishing, soccer, golf, etc. If the weather was decent (and even sometimes when it wasn't), you could find my family outside.
All kinds of outdoor childhood memories started coming to mind yesterday as I was changing out dirt in some of my older pots. My hands were dirty, my pants were dirty, and I was happy. All those memories would make great content for a layout or two – a story about my family.
Memories that go along with being outside for me include:
- riding bikes around and around the cul-de-sac (and up and down the hill as we got older) until my Mom would ring the bell for us to come in for dinner
- racing my brother on our bikes as we rode to the local outdoor pool in the summer
- getting soaking wet and cold playing soccer in the rain every weekend in grade school
- watching my parents work together in the garden
- walking outside into our backyard and seeing all the color and the hanging baskets that my Dad had lovingly created while listening to sports or talk shows on his little portable radio
- cold drinks
- slip & slide down the hill in the backyard (and the resulting grass or plastic burns that always seemed to go along with all the fun)
- the smell of the BBQ
- the smell of fertilizer and the amazing aqua color as my Mom mixed it in a giant garbage can to feed all the flowers in our backyard
I had to think a bit to remember these bits of my life – they didn't all come flooding back without effort. But as I sit here and type they are beginning to flood – I am totally looking forward creating a layout that showcases these outdoor memories (with or without photos). This is a big part of my personal story that I have not documented yet.
Today, as an adult, I am getting ready to have my backyard landscaped for the first time. Lots of wonderful, crazy firsts happening around the Edwards' this year. I can't wait to have a place to gather and eat and simply be outside. And make sure I am really living my life everyday so that Simon will have awesome memories to reflect back on when he is older. So that he will know what was important to me and to Chris and that those values will guide him in the future.
I realized yesterday, as I was happily digging in the dirt, that I was capturing life.
I was capturing pieces of my life that I had not thought of in years. I was capturing it through my memories, through the thoughts and images that were playing in my mind as I was creating new ones by simply digging in the dirt.
My point today? Capturing life is not always documenting our right now. Sometimes it is capturing pieces of the past that we want to remember, that make us who we are today. We all have memories – some are good and happy and beautiful in that hazy summer afternoon twilight sort of way; while others are sad, traumatizing, frustrating and dark. Having both makes us real, makes us human.
In documenting life you always have a choice. Not all stories have to be – or need to be – told. It's about finding a balance with the truths of your own personal story. For me, documenting both the good and the challenges helps me process my life as a whole. Some of my stories appear in my scrapbooks and others are kept closer to my heart. Again, part of the process is realizing that you get to choose how you want to document your life.
As you go about your week, be conscious of activities that bring up memories. Grab a notebook or set up a file on your computer and start jotting them down. Go a bit deeper to capture those moments that linger on the fringe of your memories. Maybe you will remember parts of yourself that you have lost connection with, or pieces of your heart that are willing to stand up today and have their story told.
A COUPLE ADDITIONAL NOTES : It's always interesting for me to go back and read things like this that were written three + years ago. Over those three years I have made many, many layouts but not one that relates to the particular content about outside memories. Back on the list it goes.
And I am still waiting for a place in my backyard to gather and eat and simply be outside.