Today: I always want to remember the joy on your face when you realized we had dandelions in the backyard ready for wishing.
Yesterday: I heard so much love and patience in Grandma’s voice as she taught you how to blow dandelion wishes when we went on our adventure to the park.
The day before: I listened to you run down the hall to the guest room saying, “It’s time to get up Grandma Fina! It’s morning time!”
I am a bit obsessed with prompts. I like how they give us a place to begin when we face the blank page or canvas. Somehow it takes the mystery out of creating for me in a way that supports me to get right to it instead of getting caught up in thinking "I don't know what I’m doing." Sometimes a prompt takes me to unexpected places and pushes me to see things from angles I hadn't noticed before.
I often turn to prompts when I want to tell a piece of a story in a blog post or in my Project Life layouts or when I’m writing a poem. Sometimes I want to share details of a day or an experience without telling the whole story. Maybe I’m keeping pieces of the story close to me or maybe I want to drill down and look closely at one moment.
One prompt I really love is:
The day before
Sometimes I will tell the story with one photo like I did above. Sometimes I have photos to pair with each written snapshots. For example:
Today: It’s a vintage quilts spread out in the backyard while eating a picnic and listening to her tell stories kind of Sunday afternoon.
Yesterday: Walking along Puget Sound looking for sea glass, I am in awe of the beauty of this place I now call home.
The day before: Something about the way the birds are singing and the way Spring feels almost overwhelmingly beautiful has me deeply missing my grandparents today.
Sometimes I just have the words, so I really try to paint a picture by bringing in the senses like this example from a year ago:
Now: Neighborhood children giggle and yell and run under the peeking through grey sunshine as I sit cross-legged in the middle of my bed wrapping wire around beads and stringing them together to soon be sent across the sea to become a talisman of words another wants to hold close to her heart.
Yesterday: A cafe full of chattering, eating, meeting people, I weave between the tables trying to find a place to call my own where I can sip this mug of chai and write and remind myself that I do know what step to take next even though the uncertainty sometimes slips around me like a cloak I don't remember buying in a dusty flea market another lifetime ago.
The day before: When Ellie Jane refused to get in the car, we walk along the sidewalk passing storefronts and cars with "you have to hold my hand" said aloud on repeat, and then we turn and do it again because a one year old has no need to understand the stacked up inside my head to-do list that includes "picking up the taxes" on the line right after the doctor's appointment we just completed.
This is also a great way to tell the stories when you don’t have photos of moments you want to remember. It becomes a written illustration of the photos you didn’t take. This is really useful to me when I’m sifting through my feelings around something. Writing short snapshots like these grounds me in the present and helps me focus on the beauty even in challenging moments. “The day before” example above describes a moment when I didn’t have my camera, but I really wanted to remember the way I just leaned into the experience with my daughter and let go of “all that must get done.” Honestly, I could probably write one of these a day, which could become a beautiful practice of an entire journal filled of written snapshots of “the photo I didn’t take today...”
Other prompts I’ve been using lately:
- This is me
- Today, I...
- I want to remember
- Observations on [insert date, time]
- In this moment...
What prompts do you like to use when sharing the snapshots of a story? Share your favorites in the comments today.
About Liz Lamoreux: I’m a retreat host, jewelry artist, and the author of Inner Excavation: Explore Your Self Through Photography, Poetry, and Mixed Media. In this moment, you might find me dancing in my studio to Mumford and Sons, making muffins with my almost three-year-old daughter, writing a poem, or deeply enjoying the quiet found in a cup of tea. Connect with me at www.lizlamoreux.com.
In June, Liz is teaching Water Your Toddler Mama Soul, a 10-day ecourse just for moms of toddlers that focuses on ways to tell our stories during these years where we have little time to ourselves. There will be daily photography prompts and self-care ideas that will help you reconnect with yourself in the midst of all that a day with a toddler (or two or three) brings, plus we'll be gathering in a private Facebook community that will continue after the course. Learn more and register here.