Three Things | Inspiring Books

Hello again Three Things.

In the past, Three Things has focused specifically on three scrapbooking products that have caught my attention. I'm bringing back this series with an expanded focus on products/topics that have something to do with memory keeping, scrapbooking, and/or living an inspired, creative life.

This week I want to introduce you to three books I'm currently reading - each inspiring me in it's own way.

Keri Smith | Mess: The Manual of Accidents and Mistakes

The word mess has been on my mind this past week. Could be the boxes I'm still navigating around. Could be the stuff strewn all over my office. Could be my new little bit of messy love word art. Or it could be this new book from creative mastermind Keri Smith.

Mess is the latest in Keri's series of books that invite you to play an active part in the creation of the finished project. These are not books you just sit down and read, these are books where you're invited and prompted to actively experiment, play, combine ideas, make a mess and challenge your mind creatively.

Here's the thing for me: I love the idea of making a mess, of being super free with my creativity, and just letting go. But...and that's a pretty big one...I have a hard time just doing it. I also know, through my own experiences, that accidents and mistakes often result in surprisingly wonderful solutions to creative problems (also known as serendipity). This is precisely why I was interested in Keri's new book.

Here's two things I love about Keri and her approach:

(1) Keri is permission : to break away from my usual linear self and send it on vacation (and vacation means that it comes back refreshed and renewed with new life experiences that enrich it's overall existence).

(2) Keri is encouragement : to create what she calls a "habit of experimentation" which can be so beneficial in living a full, creative life (and in learning new ways to tell our stories with words + photos).

So I opened the book, flipped to the page you see above, and embarked on making a mess. My experience went something like this:

The first page I turned to said, "Short Attention Span Page. Do Something in each square for only 10 seconds." I thought to myself, oh, I can totally do this - look at that lovely collection of orderly squares. I love squares. I love when things have a home. And then I remembered that I was supposed to make a mess or break the rules or experiment. Stop talking to yourself and just put pen to paper were my next thoughts. To follow the 10-second directions I used an online timer since I was sitting at my desk (turn your volume down because it's pretty loud).

Here's what I discovered:

  1. I seriously over-think this stuff and have a hard time letting go of control (she addresses this idea in the intro).

  2. My default is straight lines, circles, and the alphabet. Surprise, surprise.

  3. Working in this book will make me think about things least for a time. Even just doing this one exercise made me look at my usual process and think about the ways I currently approach creative projects. I think that only good things can come from this sort of experimentation and letting go.

My plan with this book is to use it as a rut-buster. When I'm feeling uninspired or disconnected from what I'm working on I can pull it out, open to a random page and do whatever it tells me to do and make a mess. I'll share more of the messes I make in my book from time to time.

If it's been awhile since you've visited Keri's blog she's got a really cool new look - very Keri. I also highly recommend two of her other books Wreck This Journal and How to Be an Explorer of the World.

Connect with Keri: Blog | Facebook | Shop

Chris Guillebeau | The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World

According to Chris, the central theme of the book is “You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to. You can do good things for yourself and make the world a better place at the same time. Here’s how to do it.

I was first introduced to Chris through Andrea Scher. I went to his site and started reading and really, really liked what he had to say. His attitude about life is infectious. The choices he has made have enabled him to live a life focused on what he's passionate about and give back. We've had the chance to chat online and I was interviewed for his Unconventional Guide To Art & Money Guide.

Chris is all about being unconventional.

That's a word I like. Actually it's a word I've come to love after a series of personal life experiences - most notably the entrance of my amazing son Simon into my life eight years ago. I have come to embrace unconventionality. I like that my thesaurus tells me that another word for unconventional is extraordinary. There are moments with Simon when I long for "normal" (whatever that means) but more often than not I find myself celebrating differences rather than wishing for convention.

I'm about half-way through The Art of Non-Conformity and the concepts and ideas Chris presents are sticking with me and coming back to me at random moments throughout my day (one of the things I love about reading). Thoughts on fear, action, change, abundance, adventure, not doing things in your life because you "think you are supposed to," doing work you love, purpose, being a part of something bigger than yourself, active decision making, radically saying "no," the creation of a legacy, etc. are all floating around in my mind and heart.

It all gets down to this: you CAN live the life you want.

Seriously, go to his site and get inspired to be an active participant in your life (vs. what he calls "sleepwalking"). While you're there check out these inspiring reads:

  1. His personal manifesto (free PDF download): A Brief Guide To World Domination

  2. How To Be Awesome

  3. The Decision To Be Remarkable

  4. Chris also writes a ton about travel which is one of his central passions in life.

After you check out all the good stuff he has to say online, order the book. It's honest and practical and here's what's even cooler: Chris is giving 100% of the proceeds from this book to his charity project in Ethiopia.

Connect with Chris: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Unconventional Guide Store & Events

Jade Sims | Craft Hope: Handmade Crafts for a Cause

Inspired by one woman's desire to make a difference, Craft Hope is a collection of tutorials for specific projects that can be made and then donated to charities around the world.

One of the things I like most about this book is that it includes a variety of crafts. The page shown above encourages the creation of thank you cards for parents with sick kids through the Starlight Children's Foundation. The tutorial teaches you how to make a stamp with a stamp carving block (pattern for the bird is included).

For those of us with extra supplies (that's you and me), making thank you cards is something you could easily do while watching TV or at your next crop or as a special get-together with local friends. While the tutorial in the book suggests creating thank you cards for parents of ill children, within the scrapbooking + cardmaking communities Jennifer McGuire has been inspirational in spearheading Cards For Kids (cards go directly to the kids with encouraging messages). Either way you're doing something good - something that brings about hope.

Other crafts include projects such as a take-along quilt, art kit, care caps, dog tug toy, sock monkey, backpack, etc.

This book is a testament to the goodness and generosity of people all over the place - especially in our inter-connected online world.

Connect with Jade: Craft Hope |Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Flickr

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33 thoughts

  1. Theresa Merkling says…

    Thanks for sharing these Ali - I've put them on my must buy list. Always appreciate new inspiration.

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Kathryn says…

    Thank you for sharing what you're reading -- I'm off to! Some for now, some for my Christmas wish list =)

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Rhoda says…

    I love the Keri Smith books! Very inspiring. My windowsill is full of fruit stickers waiting to be put in my journal ;)
    And have you seen the Flickr site. Fun to browse through other journals.

    Great post. Off to check out some other books!


    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Petra says…

    Went and got Chris Guillebeau's book right away, finished it in 2 Days, has to be one of THE best books i've read!! Thank u so much for the recommendation!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. sunday sunshine (rosh hashanah/yom kippur edition?) « Crafts by Brianna says…

    [...] Inspiring books (via Elise Blaha via Ali Edwards) – All of these books look awesome and of course, I’ve added them all to my Amazon wishlist to own someday. [...]

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Fingerpainting & A Little More Mess | Ali Edwards says…

    [...] few months ago I wrote up a little review of Keri Smith’s newest book release Mess: The Manual of Accidents and Mistakes. I’ve [...]

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. andie says…

    Hi Ali - just bumping this because I'm wondering - did your inspiration from 'mess' last?

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. sunday sunshine: rosh hashanah/yom kippur edition? « Girl Seeks Place says…

    [...] Inspiring books (via Elise Blaha via Ali Edwards) – All of these books look awesome and of course, I’ve added them all to my Amazon wishlist to own someday. [...]

    Reply 0 Replies

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