A Catalogue of New and Different
In March 2016 I committed to keeping a journal. I’ve kept art journals in the past and have loved having a place to jot ideas and tuck a few memories. I wanted this journal to be a little different and I wanted to see if keeping it could shape parts of my life or influence my days. I ambitiously titled the front page “A Catalogue of New and Different with a Little Bit Gratitude & General Journaling plus Teeny Bits of Art & Wonderment.” My aim was and still is to try new things, do familiar things differently, seek out opportunity and see what happens when I pay attention more. The book is a very simple A5 sized Canson 110GSM visual diary and even that was different because usually I’d use a an A4 sized book. I found this a perfect size and the paper quality is good.
“Why not” Questions
In the first few weeks I routinely wrote, sketched, jotted down observations, pasted in ticket stubs, restaurant cards, the odd photo or two and marked anything that was new to me or anything I had done differently. The journal became an encouragement. Whenever I thought of the journal I found myself actively seeking out the different and new to me. In those last weeks of summer I was racking up 17 or 18 things I could call new or different in my weekly tally. Keeping the journal also helped me ask more questions, especially “why not” questions – “Why not go swimming after work every day that the weather is warm?” – that resulted in an amazing week of swimming!
New and Different
Over the first few weeks I tried new to me technology, drank beer, used brush pens on stamps I’d carved, went to the movies on a Monday night, visited 10 new cafes, wore earrings I hadn’t worn in years, went to free art exhibitions and curator talks with beloved friends, went to hear two bands, called people on their landlines, sat in different seats at meetings and at the dinner table, used art materials I had stashed away, went to an ice cream tasting, listened to podcasts, walked less familiar streets in my town, did things at different times than I would usually, (shook up some routines), asked for help, signed up to an art course, talked to strangers, listened to British dance bands of the 1930’s, painted outside in my garden, planted purple freesias, watched Wheeler Centre broadcasts, read new authors, immersed myself in history and drew a raccoon for the first time.
By week four I had tallied 65 new and different things – old things done differently, new approaches, new techniques, new places and new skills. I’ve kept the journal going since March, I don’t write in it every day but most days I do and each time I do it gives me a chance to relive the nice things that have happened, the sweetness and goodness in my life and at the end of the week I reflect a little and think about the weekend and the week to come and the new and different I can seek out. The writing has become a routine I love and it feels like a very much more generous and expansive way to live.
I’ve had lovely experiences, spent time with people I love, seen wonderful things, learned new skills, heard great music, eaten lunch with my kids, had more dinners with my husband, I’m looking forward to the next six months. Routines are fine, routines are nice, they stop you having to think too hard. That’s not either good or bad but neither is it new and different. 🙂 If the southern hemisphere winter is wearing you down I highly recommend trying a focus on the “new and different” even for a week. “New and different” might become your new routine! I’d love to hear about it.