Saturday, 10 January 2009

Lovely things observed


In her inspiring book, 'Finding Water', Julia Cameron sets readers the task to "observe five lovely things" on a daily basis. I was working my way through this book last Spring towards my 'deferred dream' and thought that Julia's exercise 

was a wonderful way to stay connected with the world.

The first day was no problem and then I became busy and realised how difficult it can be during the hurly burly of a busy schedule to stop for even a second to mentally note down the beauty that is all around us. The little things which, once observed, lift the spirit and gladden the heart. It is so easy to remain blinkered, particularly in moments of life-crisis, or depression, or worry.

So I set myself a daily ritual: bought a little desk calender and in it jotted 'lovely things observed'. I created two pages for each week in my journal and used a rubber label stamp for each day (four on each page) and a final one that summarised the week. Once a week I copied in my lovely things, and used the space at the side to comment upon my entries. Sometimes I have to remind myself to LOOK, but find that cumulatively these observations impact on my creativity - any one lovely thing may be the spark to ignite a poem, or a visual artefact ... whatever.

I don't always succeed, there have been lapses since I began last March, but beauty is always there and often catches me unawares. Some days I only record a single thing. I recommend this simple way to open our eyes to lovely things. To readers of this posting, do record what you observe - and I would so love to hear some of your own observations.

My lovely thing observed today was the hoar frost on all the hazel bushes in my garden, with catkins already elongating despite the cold; no longer the hard little bunches but almost ready to spray their yellow pollen over the crimson stamens of the embryonic nuts to come in the Autumn. 


14 comments:

  1. Hi Ann - a wonderful post - being an observer is a good way to stay in the moment also, don't you think? I'm not much on writing things down, but I like capturing things with my camera - I wonder if that counts -

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  2. Yes, of course they do - anything that enables one to catch the beauty that surrounds us an which can escape notice if we don't look. Using a camera is certainly looking; what better way to share as well. Ann

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  3. Thank you for this powerful reminder that life offers us endless gifts. How much we miss when we get too busy to stop and take just a moment to open up to the wonder all around. A lovely reminder, Ann.

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  4. What a wonderful thing - I like the use of labels! Everyday beauty grounds us in what's important! thank you

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  5. It's so true how we can get so busy during our days that we don't notice the beauty around us. Making a space for your observations in your calendar is such a great idea.

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  6. I had not heard of julia Cameron's book "Finding Water". I have just finished "Floor Sample", and I'm working on "Walking in this World". Great stuff!

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  7. Lisa, how lovely to have you visit. Julia Cameron is some gifted writer offering so many leads to aspiring writers, artists, musician, creators. I had not heard of 'Floor Sample' but it is now in my Amazon shopping basket! I first discovered JC ten years ago and I cannot remember how, but through her began 'morning pages' and 'artist dates'. It's strange now to read back through all my journals from 1999/2000 and see what I have achieved since. I would not recommend 'Finding Water' to someone who has not yet experienced the JC 'way of creative life', but it is perfect I believe for anyone who wants a boost to their creative life, in whatever field. ( I will follow your encaustic path with great interest).

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  8. Ann, You wear me out - 2 blogs and a web site! Not dissimilar to your 5 observations, I write 5 things I am grateful for each day. It is more reflection than observation, yet puts all the bad news the media throws at us in perspective! Keep up the great work. Bill

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  9. What a lovely idea. I am so disorganized at times, I could do with something to keep me mindful and make me observe. I usually manage to notice all sorts of things whilst I am walking, so I shall try and start this today. Thankyou. Off to discover lots more of your blog now.

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  10. Hello and welcome to my blog (or blogs!); I hope you will enjoy what you find. Thankyou for visiting. These labels are useful for all sorts of things, I either stamp my own on bits of recycled cardboard, or use luggage labels. I post myself notices on a cork-board, hanging them on push-pins; it's good because the labels can be moved around easily as one activity takes priority over another. Ann.

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  11. I must look out for a label stamp next time I'm in town (which was this morning - DOH!) Will write it on my white board.

    I was gardening first thing, and made sure I paid attention to what I was sensing - amazing how the birdsong is a barely-noticed chorus until you stop blocking it out and concentrate on it. Scent of crushed mint too (I have a rampant patch), and I am going to write this all down and look for a special book to put it in. Thankyou - it is such a LOVELY idea.

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  12. Oh the scent of crushed mint (you must be somewhere really mild to have it so far forward as to be able to crush it (underfoot, I guess?). Set me thinking of Flora Klickman's 'Flower Patch Among the Hills' - do you know it? Published almost 100 years ago and I still turn back to it for inspiration. She talks particularly if I recall of 'black peppermint' which rampages here in my high Cotswold garden, along with many other varieties of mint, for I am hooked on herbs. Ann.

    I'll add the details of the label stamp when I can find it amongst my clutter (P.S. where is your town?)

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  13. hi ann ~ i just found your blog courtesy of rice freeman-zachery's blog (voodoo lounge). i've been enjoying reading your posts, especially the ones about making a note of lovely things observed. reminds me a bit of a gratitude journal. and i liked your post with the 5 questions as well, although i think that was on your other blog ;)

    anyway, i look forward to future postings from your creative mind. and, who knows, one of these days i may quit procrastinating and actually create my own blog ;)

    and, yes, for sure please post the details of your label stamp, what a wonderful technique to capture small ideas on a journal page!

    ps: i'm 62, happily retired pursuing my interests in writing and art journaling, and i live in albuquerque, new mexico, usa ;)

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  14. Hello Mo - how good to make your acquaintance; I am so glad you have enjoyed my postings. I am new to blogging; I started one half-heartedly about 18 months ago and let it lapse, and was then commissioned to write a magazine article for beginners on 'creating a gardening blog'. So there was my challenge, create one and write about it. I am learning all the time, but the delicious thing is - as I am sure you have already discovered - it shrinks the world and makes it a truly friendly, welcoming place. Do as I did, and just start! Admittedly, I had help from two very gifted bloggers (Toni - 'A Spattering', and Bridgette - 'Contemplating the Moon'; they have been so helpful and supportive. Then there was Kristin Steiner who started it all when she tutored a workshop over here at Oxford Summer School in 2007 and suggested blogging - their blogs are listed in my list of 'blogs I admire'.

    As to the label-stamp, as soon as I can find where I have put it!

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