Jolie Guillebeau


Archive for April, 2013

Write it Right

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

A few of you asked, so today includes some links.

First, the paper and software I use for turning my writing into digital form. I’ve used Whitelines notebooks for ages, because I love them, but now they’ve come up with an amazing system that works with my iPhone, then uploads wherever I want it to go.

And my pen is a LAMY safari. (Warning, clicking that link could cause major pen coveting. I was only on the site for 30 seconds and I saw three pens that were calling my name.)

Second, my big plans for the day off? Well, actually– more painting. More than fifty of you submitted stories in time to receive a tiny painting from me as my birthday gift to you, so I’m going to spend a little extra time this weekend working on those. If you sent in a story, expect to hear from me soon.

And now, the completed painting. See you Monday!

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Write it Right

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Today’s story is handwritten, so you’ll want to click through if you can’t see the images.

Oh and one more thing– if you sent me a story in response to my birthday project, I’ve collected the responses and begun painting dozens of tiny paintings to send out. It’s gonna take a few weeks, so just sit tight andI’ll email you when yours is on its way.

And now a new story.

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WL 2013-04-17 18 09 12WL 2013-04-18 21 33 13WL 2013-04-21 19 52 29

 

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Story Stones

Friday, April 12th, 2013

After hearing from so many of you, I’ve come to a conclusion. This painting is complete, but this project isn’t over.

While today is the deadline for telling your story and receiving a birthday present from me, I’m going to keep the story page up for a while. I think there are more people out there who want and need a space for sharing these stories.

So if you know of any, send them over– and if you haven’t already–go share your story here.

Meanwhile, today is my birthday! I’m gonna eat some cake and celebrate being alive for 36 whole years! Here’s to dozens of new stories and many more rocks for the collection in years to come.

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Rock Collection

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Tomorrow is my birthday! And I’m giving you a present.

A few of you have mentioned that you aren’t sharing a story, because you never win anything, so there’s no point in entering the contest.

Good news! It’s not a contest. Every single person who shares a story with me here before tomorrow night will receive a birthday gift from me. It will be a tiny original painting inspired by your story.

So go tell me a story. I can’t wait to read it.

Meanwhile, here’s my story today.

The other 33 rocks each have their own story too. One is from Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. One is from  a waterfall in the Faroe Islands, in the North Atlantic. Others came  from a walk on the beach with my friend Bethann near her home on Long Island. One is from India, one is from Blarney Castle in Ireland.

Individually, they’re lovely– but together they tell the story of a life. A life of travel and discovery and saying yes. A life of rewriting stories.

Thirty-six is a big year for me somehow. It seems like I say that every year, and maybe it’s true. Every year is a big year when creating your own story. Because that’s what we’re doing. By reshaping and rewriting the stories that were given to us, we’re making our own and making it better.

One of my pet peeves is the way that the internet has suddenly made everyone an expert. People build a website and declare themselves the guru of Life, the Universe and Everything.

I’m not an expert on any of this stuff. I’m just a girl who has told a lot of stories over the years and discovered that the telling of the stories changed her.

I discovered that I could make a new story, just by telling the old ones.

Here’s your chance, too.

(All 36 rocks tomorrow!)

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Not a Rock, Part Two

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

In case you’re just joining us– you’ll want to go read Monday’s email, so you can get in on the birthday gift action. This Friday is my birthday and I’m giving presents to you.

If you know what’s going on, and want to go straight to sharing your own story–go share your story here.

Update: I’m astounded by how many stories I’ve received! Thank you for trusting me with these! This Friday is the deadline, so if you haven’t shared a story, now’s your chance. And I’d love to give out many more birthday presents– so tell your friends too! 

So I explained about the sea glass, but the hunk of metal is a different story.

In the summer of 2005, our ship went to East London, South Africa for drydock repairs. We spent six weeks there, and those of us who weren’t technically inclined were left with easy jobs.

Since school was out for the summer, I had some extra time, so I volunteered for a few shifts of firewatching. Fires on a ship are a very bad idea, so our captain had a system that required one person to stand by with a fire extinguisher and watch for stray sparks any time welders were working.

I spent lots of hours that summer in dark holds of the ship talking to South African welders as they repaired different parts of the hull. And I watched tiny pieces of metal melt away from the ship while they patched and created stronger bonds between the metal plates.

Since the metal gets so hot, fire watchers were required to stay for two hours after the work was complete. And one day while I was down there alone, I noticed a lump of metal that had been removed from the structure of the ship, but not swept away. I liked the idea of having a “rock” from this place that had been my home for so long, so I picked it up. It was still warm to the touch and a little soft. I rubbed an edge smooth and tucked it in to my pocket.

That ship has been retired, and sold for scrap metal now. And while I have a few other momentos from that time, this one is the one that seems the most personal to me. No one else would appreciate this lump of metal the way I do.

That’s the way some stories are too. You can share them, because you need to share them, but many times everyone else is just going to see a lump of metal. While you see a piece of your home.

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Not a Rock

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

In case you’re just joining us– you’ll want to go read last Monday’s email, so you can get in on the birthday gift action. Next Friday is my birthday and I’m giving presents to you.

If you know what’s going on, and want to go straight to sharing your own story– go share your story here.

I guess you’re wondering about the sea glass and the hunk of metal? They’re not rocks, but they hold the same sort of memories for me, so I keep them in the “rock box.”

The sea glass is from Liberia. Every year, we took the kids from the ship school on a three-day off ship retreat. In Liberia, we took them to ELWA Beach, where they played in the ocean and built a big campfire. It’s where I got malaria, and where I shocked the kids by being the first one to run outside when they were debating whether we should keep playing frisbee since it was pouring rain.

After that rainstorm, we went for a walk on the beach and I found this piece of sea glass. It reminds me of that weekend and those kids.

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36 years, 36 rocks

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

In case you’re just joining us– you’ll want to go read last Monday’s email, so you can get in on the birthday gift action. Friday is my birthday and I’m giving presents to you.

If you know what’s going on already, and want to go straight to sharing your own story– you can go here.

Okay, so we’ve talked about all the reasons to share your stories– I thought I’d put that in to practice and share a few stories with you. Plus, I’m guessing you might want to know a little about this painting that I keep showing you.

Last week, I sorted through my rock collection and chose 36 of my favorites. Which actually means I chose 34 rocks, one piece of sea glass and one small hunk of metal.

Each rock has a small note on it in silver pen to remind me of its origin. The sea glass and the metal require relying on my own memory, since the silver pen wore off.

Each of these stones holds a story for me.

The small red one in the middle is from a park in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. It was fall 2004, our school on board the ship was hopelessly understaffed and I was teaching eight classes of art, four classes of History, six classes of English, and most disastrously one class of 7th grade Math. If I was teaching Math, you know we were desperate.

On top of all this, I’d just been appointed vice-principal, and that came with more responsibility. I was feeling overwhelmed and exhausted one afternoon about six weeks in to the school year, so I went outside with my journal and walked over to the park near the port.

I sat under a tree and wrote. Somehow, writing it all down made it less overwhelming. The sun was setting, and I was late for dinner, but I felt relieved and unburdened. That little red pebble was on the ground under the tree and I picked it up and rubbed in with my finger.

It sat on my desk for the rest of the school year and even now when I hold it I immediately remember the sense of relief I felt sitting under that tree.

(Bonus square! I painted two today!)

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Rocks in your Pocket

Monday, April 8th, 2013

n case you’re just joining us– you’ll want to go read Monday’s email, so you can get in on the birthday gift action. Next Friday is my birthday and I’m giving presents to you.

If you know what’s going on, and want to go straight to sharing your own story– here’s the link.

Not every not-so-good story is a hard heavy one. Maybe you just have a few small stories weighing you down. Stories that you believe about yourself that shape your identity.

There are so many tiny stories about me that could make me feel like a klutz. Many of them happened in middle school P.E., but there were a few others.

But then one day I realized we all had variations on this same story. We’ve all done clumsy things at some point.

I’m probably not the only person on the planet who has run face-first in to a volleyball. I might not even be the only person who has done that twice in one hour.

Sharing these stories also helps us let go of that identity. When other people heard my story and laughed as they told me of their own embarrassing klutzy stories, it made me feel less foolish. And even less klutzy.

Go share your story here.

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Millstones

Friday, April 5th, 2013

In case you’re just joining us– you’ll want to go read Monday’s email, so you can get in on the birthday gift action. Next Friday is my birthday and I’m giving presents to you.

If you know what’s going on, and want to go straight to sharing your own story– here’s the link.

Of course, some stories are hard. While most stories are mostly good, the not-so-good ones can skew the data a bit.

It really only takes one or two not-so-good stories to sink a soul.

Those stories are the millstones, the ones that threaten to pull us under. The ones that are heavy to hold.

I have a few of those too. Some I’ve even told here. And some I haven’t.

But whether I’ve told them here or not, I’ve sought out a safe container for those stories. Maybe that’s someone who loves me, or maybe that’s with a therapist, or maybe it’s just in my journal. The point is, those stories live somewhere other than in me.

That’s the first and best step to letting them go. And learning to swim without the weight of them around my neck.

If you’ve got a safe space for those stories, by all means, use it. Don’t keep them around your neck. Let go.

Go share your story here.

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Touchstones

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

In case you’re just joining us– you’ll want to go read Monday’s email, so you can get in on the birthday gift action. Next Friday is my birthday and I’m giving presents to you.

If you know what’s going on, and want to go straight to sharing your own story– here’s the link.

If I have any kind of superpower, I’d say it was learning to reshape my own story. I’ve done a lot of that publicly here in this newsletter, but I think it began long before that.

With tying my shoes, or learning to say yes, or getting on a roller coaster for the first time, or becoming brave– all of these are stories I’ve rewritten in some way or another.

When I’m in the middle of rewriting a story about myself, I rely on touchstones– little reminders scattered about that help me remember. Once I pasted little blue dots in spots all over my classroom as a reminder that kept me sane through a particularly tough year as a teacher.

Sometimes these touchstones are actual stones. I have one near my easel right now that is a rock I picked up on Cannon Beach when I went in January. It’s a reminder to create space for myself and to stop over thinking things so much.

Do you have reminders like that?
Go share your story here.

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