The Bright, Beautiful Side of Age

February 5, 2014

The Bright Side of Aging by Tracey Clark

I remember turning 40 and feeling on top of the world. I felt wise and confident, beautiful and even ageless. So, this is what everyone that had turned 40 before me had talked about? “Life begins at 40” some would say, and I could feel it in my body and my mind. I was ready to begin another amazing chapter of my life.

But, now I’m 46 and I have to say, over the past few years I think I have been mourning the quick-fleeting agelessness I felt at 40. I figured I’d have most of my 40s to feel it. But, that hasn’t been the case. Perhaps it’s because the last few years have brought with them some challenges from personal struggles to body breakdowns to hormonal changes. I mean, at least 2 of the 3 of those do have something to do with my age but for some reason, I just wasn’t anticipating them to happen to me. Not so sudden anyway. It’s been an adjustment, to say the least.

When I got the invite from Susannah Conway to share my thoughts and feelings about my age, and all the awesome things about it, I will admit I laughed out loud. But, it was the kind of laughter that comes from knowing that it was no accident that the invite came now, in the midst of my “adjustment” process. Thinking, reflecting, and writing about all the awesome things that have come with age is exactly what I’ve needed to stop focusing on the negative things and start acknowledging and appreciating all the positive things. I recently read a quote that said something like, “Which side has the greener grass? The side you water.” Well said.

And with that, I am choosing to get out my watering can. It’s true, my age has brought with it so many wonderful gifts. Regardless some of my physical and even some mental complaints (damn you hormones!) I wouldn’t change where I’m at for anything. I am more grounded and self-assured, and sure-footed than I’ve ever been. I’ve got a better outlook. I’m kinder to myself. I’m more resilient in almost every arena. I’m sure of who I am and what I believe. And perhaps where all of these things come to light for me—in the brightest and most beautiful ways—is through motherhood. As I have gotten older, so have my children and I now have two daughters—10 and 16—who I know are benefiting from me being a more experienced and balanced woman than I was when they were younger. I feel more confident in my guidance, more wise in my tutelage, and happier with myself, who I am and where I’m at than I was years ago. And the woman I am now makes the mother that I am now so much better for myself and my girls. I can feel it deep down. And that is an amazing feeling.

Although I might still be adjusting to the older me in body, I can tell you true, that I’m feeling pretty awesome in heart and soul!

Happy Birthday Susannah and thank you for encouraging us to celebrate our age. I’m so glad you did.


Where I’m at on New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2013
new years sunset

image courtesy of my husband

I’ve been working on my end of the year post for days now and I’ve written and rewritten. I’ve rambled on and have been rattled. I’ve contemplated things and confused myself.  I’ve almost published and then I’ve hit delete. Over and over. I guess I’m not certain of what to say. I’m not really certain of anything. Heading into a new year, I usually have a strategy, a road map, a plan. But, the start of this year feels a little different. Because instead of standing on the threshold of a new year holding my well-designed map, I’m holding hands with the Great Unknown.

Over the past few months, my focus has been on wrapping things up, creating space, making room, and slowing down. And truth is, it’s feels strange. I’m just not used to it. Not yet anyway. Truthfully, I’m feeling a little lost. But, not without hope.  Realizing that this is exactly the place I need to be right now is comforting but it’s not comfortable. Not being certain of exactly where I’m headed is unnerving but it means I’m having to embrace uncertainty.  And because it might be hardest thing for me, know it’s going to be a great exercise.

And with that, I wish you a Happy New Year and hope that you are exactly where you need to be and that you find some comfort in that place, whether it’s comfortable or not. Just know, that no matter where you’re at, you’re not alone.


Traveling Along The Pursuit of Happiness Path

September 4, 2013

 The Pursuit of Happiness

Have you ever gone through a period of time in your life when everything that’s put in your path seems to somehow correlate or connect with something else on your path? Like all of the things that you’re going through, dealing with, meditating on, wondering about, struggling with are all tied together with an invisible string? I’m in that kind of period right now and there hasn’t been a day that’s passed over the past few weeks that hasn’t given me this overwhelming feeling that there are important messages being whispered, truths being revealed, breakthroughs being made, transformations occurring.

I have had this sort of thing happen a number of times throughout my life. I have actually had times when I felt like I was moving through my days in slow motion, acknowledging that when I moved slow enough with heightened awareness that I could actually hear the Universe dictating my next move to me before I made it. I know, crazy, right?

This time though, it’s different. Instead of hearing the instructions before I make a move, it’s more like I’m getting signs of affirmations after my steps forward. On one day I’ll start cleaning out my closet and the next my horoscope reads that my well-being depends on my ability to create space. Or soon after having a conversation with a friend about longing for more childlike play in my life, I get an invitation to an amusement park. These simplified examples might seem like insignificant coincidences but I consider them synchronicities; nods of encouragement from the Universe, Yes, Tracey, keep walking. You do know the way.

This is exactly how I felt reading every chapter of Britt Reints’ new book An Amateur’s Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness. Through Britt’s bravely honest stories and her refreshingly crystalline insights I am reminded that I am indeed, moving in the right direction in my daily journey into my best and happiest life. Britt’s delivery is much like that of a trusted friend; someone wise who speaks earnestly from experience, someone kind who only wants the best for you (but doesn’t sugar coat the truth), someone comforting who assures you there is nothing wrong with you and reminds you that everything really is going to be OK, even when it’s hard. And you know what? I totally believe her.

I finished the book with tears in my eyes feeling like someone had just wrapped me in a warm blanket and kissed my forehead which is exactly what I needed because, let me tell you, the path can really take a toll. But, I will continue to forge ahead, grateful for respites like this book that nurture and renew my spirit along the way. Britt reminds and reassures us that “happiness is not a linear path, but rather a circular journey along which we are constantly learning”. Indeed.

Let’s walk on.

………..

Amateurs Guide to the Pursuit of HappinessI’m thrilled to be offering up a signed copy of An Amateur’s Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness by Britt Reints today to one lucky person! It’ll be a random drawing. Leave a comment on this post between now and Sunday 9/8 at midnight ET for your chance to win. This is an awesome book so you are going to want to win!

And speaking of winners, want a chance to win a class registration in Picture Everyday? Britt’s giving one away on her blog In Pursuit of Happiness. YAY!


Diving into Project Life with Another Video

September 2, 2013

As promised, I documented my first day experimenting with Project Life. It was one of the most creative, fun and relaxing (yes, relaxing) thing I’ve done for myself in a long time. And who would have guessed I’m learning things about myself in the process of diving head long into uncharted waters? I guess putting it that way, it would go to figure. Anything new, different and out of the ordinary usually does teach us a thing or two about ourselves.

I appreciate all of your kind comments and encouragement on my first Project Life video post. I’m excited knowing so many of you are doing something like Project Life for yourselves and/or are willing to give it a try with me. I know I keep saying it but I think it’s going to make for an amazing, important and transformative part of remembering and embracing my creative joy.

How is your Project Life process coming along?

Elevate the Everyday With Project Life

For more about Project Life, visit Becky Higgins site. Visit Amazon to purchase Project Life Products. If you’re out of the country and are looking to purchase the products, Scrapbooker’s Inner Circle sells internationally. How cool is that?

The PL Products I am using right now:

Project Life Core Kit – Seafoam Edition
Photo Pocket Pages – Big Variety Pack 1 (60 Pages)
Project Life Binder – Seafoam Edition
Project Life 3 x 4 Textured Cardstock – Honey Edition
Project Life 4 X 6 Textured Cardstock – Honey Edition

For more about Picture Everyday at Big Picture Classes, read all about it on the registration page. Class starts Sept 12th. The Project Life part of class will be during the final week (week 8) of class. Hope to see you there!


My Project Life Adventure Begins

August 20, 2013

I’m pretty excited about this. As if you couldn’t tell.

For those of you on the Project Life train already, how do you like it? What’s your favorite part about it? Any hints for the newbies?

And for those of you like me, who are just starting to dabble, where you at with it? So happy we’re in it together. It makes it so much cooler!

And lastly, if you’re scratching your head thinking, “Wait, Tracey is scrapbooking? What is going on over here?” let me just say that I’m as surprised as you are. But hey, new adventures can be fun and I’m really looking forward to this one. I will be sharing my process as I go so if you want to join me, I would love that! Leave comments, leave links, share your story, your thoughts, your process. You can also join me in my class Picture Everyday where the last week will actually be about getting our lovely photos off of the computer and into Project Life pages. Woohoo! It’s going to be awesome.


Saying What Needs to be Said

February 24, 2013

clutter

I keep waiting and waiting and putting it off. By that I mean writing here about you know…my “stuff”.  Why? I keep asking myself and I keep hearing the same answer—

because sometimes words don’t come easy.

And again come the whys. Why don’t words come easy anymore?  Maybe because I’ve been in a quieter, more contemplative state than what feels normal for me. Or because I’m writing so many words for other people/places/projects that for my own blog I feel tapped out. Or because there doesn’t ever feel like there’s enough time in the day. Or because I would rather use my blog for lovely things—and although I deeply believe that there is beauty in everything—life is kind of messy right now (literally).

There’s not really one, uncomplicated answer. In fact, all of these things are true and they all answer the whys together. I’m imagining there are lots of folks that can relate to some of this stuff and I know I’m not alone. And like many of you, I’m sharing plenty about my life through a continually running stream of images that tell my story in a way that feels good to me. So what’s the issue? Isn’t that enough?Why am I so desperate to share more?  Because what I am sharing through both images and words isn’t the whole story.  And considering I’m someone who has created an entire career around documenting everyday life, it seems strange (and hypocritical) that I’m not sharing it all.

 So, what is whole story?  The whole has to be the sum of all of the parts. And the parts that have never really been illuminated are the parts I’ve been ashamed and embarrassed to expose in pictures or words.  These are the parts that aren’t  shiny, bright, exciting, or pretty but they are the parts that I feel like I have to reveal to not only share my whole story but to share the whole of who I am. I’ve grown weary of keeping some things hidden because it’s exhausting quite frankly and I think it’s time to come out of the closet.

{Here comes the messy part}

I have a huge, ugly, shameful, embarrassing, on-going, often paralyzing battle with clutter.

There. I said it. Long, slow, deflating, defeating exhale.

Considering the tone of some recent posts,  I think I have  prepared everyone for the worst (a dear family member called the other day certain that something was really wrong over here because of the tone of my writing) so admitting I have a problem with clutter might leave people wondering what the big deal is. Well, for me, my clutter issues often feel insurmountable. Sure, I can joke about it, I can avoid it, I can ignore it (or at least try to) but it’s a really big, dark, debilitating issue for me and if I have learned nothing else over the years, it’s that the darkness often just needs to be illuminated to make the whole thing seem a lot less, well, dark. So I supposed, this is my attempt at using a flashlight.

This brings me back to me wanting to use my blog for lovely things and how when you’ve got a clutter problem enclosing in on you, lovely things aren’t as easily found. And let’s face it, there’s nothing about clutter that’s lovely. Alas, I am a master at shooting the things around me that bring me the most joy, comfort and peace. Anyone who has ever seen my photographic work knows that it’s a rare thing for me to disclose the mess. It’s not what brings me joy. It’s not what I want to see. And it’s certainly not what I want to elevate in my daily life. And so, no pictures of it. Or very few anyway. But, back in November, as I sat in my cluttered office, overwhelmed with hopelessness, I shared one simple image on Instagram that brought my issue and feelings to light (see the image above). After a number of long comments of people commiserating with me, I realized that there are many others with similar issues and after getting a letter in the mail that confirmed it, I realized that perhaps sharing my burden might be the only way to carry it and hopefully one day be able to leave it behind. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Today, right now, I’m finally coming out of the clutter closet with a commitment moving forward to share my “stuff”; words, pictures and all. Yes, there will be pictures (gut clinching as I type that out). I realize it’s going to be a journey, a process, a practice, an evolution and that this one post is just merely cracking the door open. But, that feels like plenty for one day.

And with all that, I might have to go lie down. Right after I clear off my bed.