Wreck This Journal: Memories


Wreck This Journal started as an individual experience, but it didn’t take long for my friends and family to get involved as well.  The phrase, “the more the merrier,” has never been more true.  As I look through my journal, I turn pages that hold multiple epiphanies and pages that hold memories for which I’ll always be grateful.  Creativity is as much an artistic endeavor as it is a human experience.

At one point in the journal, there is a page that says, “Give away your favorite page.”  I have been the lucky recipient of two favorite pages, both of which are securely fastened to my journal.  One comes from my good friend Rita, with whom I have fond memories of writing together and completing Wreck This Journal.  Her page always makes me smile as I think of the friendship, inspiration, and moments we have shared.  As a bonus, trees have always been a special source of inspiration for me (even as a child).  Fate always pulls us in the direction we need to go and Rita, my friend, I will always be thankful I fate brought me to you.

The second page comes from my grandmother and has recently taken on much more significance. When I first started this journal two years ago, I bought one for her too, so we could have something to do together.  She’d had a stroke the previous year, so it was important to keep her active and exercise her mind.  Besides that, my grandma loves to play and go nuts with crayons and markers (its my favorite thing about her).  Every Friday, I brought my journal to her house and we worked on our pages – laughing and experimenting happily the whole time.  When it came time for her to give up a favorite page, she gave me a page that asked her to “Sample various substances found in your home.”  She got it mixed up with the page where she was supposed collect random objects, but we had a good giggle over that mishap.  As we always say mistakes are “what makes it homemade,” (long story, family joke).

Grandma’s random objects are strange and have no relationship, but at the same time I can see her in every item she chose to attach to this page. She got the sandpaper from my grandpa’s tool bench where he builds his model trains, the safety pin came from her sewing “tomato” pin cushion, the button came from her sewing table, the Snicker’s wrapper came from the candy pile we devoured while working on our journals, the matchbook came from the kitchen drawer, the gum wrapper from her purse, and the copper “tag” came from her craft box.  Any stranger would deem these objects as worthless, but to me they are priceless.  Over the last year, I’ve watched my grandma slip away as age and dementia stole little pieces of her until there was hardly anything left.  I still go see her, but like everyone else in my family, I hold on for the little glimmers of her humor and feistiness that still poke through every once in a while.  When I see her page, it’s a nice reminder that when she’s gone, my memories of her will be beautiful and full of love.

I know my Wreck This Journal posts are usually much more lighthearted, but when art and human condition collide, emotions tend to run deep.  Yes, its crazy to rip, tear, mutilate, and destroy, but at the core is one simple truth – All of this nonsense really does mean something.

– – –

For previous Wreck This Journal posts, please visit my sidebar and Tag Cloud.  Stay inspired!

c.b. 2012


42 thoughts on “Wreck This Journal: Memories

  1. Thank you dear friend. I have always loved drawing trees. There’s something about the upward reach of the limbs. My sister taught me this technique when I was very young and I used regular old crayons to make it.
    I completely understand your feelings about these little things from your Grandma. These things seem to slip our minds as time goes on but having that reminder of every day things is precious. And that she pulled them together and them in really is priceless.
    What great memories you have.


  2. Cassie

    I have hidden this under my bed because I’m scared of the page that says “Rip this out, forget the loss…” or something along those lines. I really should challenge myself to do it and then blog about it all. Hm…Thanks for the idea.


    • Confession: I have yet to tear out a page and give it away. I’m just not ready or I haven’t found a creative way around it. 😉

      If you blog about it, I’ll be following along! It’s always fun to see how someone else approaches each page.


  3. I love the story you shared about your Grandma, and how you would sit together to work on the journal. My mother and I would color together, (when she was slipping towards dementia), and I really do wish I still had some of those works of art, made by her own hand.

    I find the whole idea of the Wreck This Journal journey to be intriguing, interesting, and somewhat frightening, which probably means I should give it a try. I’m one of those “don’t bend the corners back or EVER write in a book” kind of people, so I’m afraid it would be too painful for me! But I really have enjoyed seeing the words you’ve shared about your journey. Nicely done.


    • At this stage, my grandma and I do sit and color together. I bought her some simple coloring books and a large box of crayons and she really enjoys it. Frankly, so do I! There is something rather cathartic about coloring – its very relaxing and reminds me to slow down. 🙂

      I am one of those people who refuses to bend pages or crack spines, too. It took me a long time to do both of those things to my journal. However, every reading book on my shelf remains as pristine as the day I got it or better, (I actually “clean” my books!). 🙂


  4. What wonderful memories you have. The fact that you continue to see your grandmother and the two of you engage in creativity together is just so cool 🙂 I can understand not ripping out a page and giving it away. Part of it is “teacher” and we hand on to everything because we never know when we might be able to repurpose it. And might the other part be a bit of perfectionism (not wanting your book to be “wrecked”), or fear (not wanting other to see-i.e. “judge”-your creativity)? I think I fit into both of those a little.


    • Sometimes I think I’m a hoarder in disguise. 😉

      I think I have a hard time letting go of things that are so personal. Each page means something to me (as outlined in each post of this series), so its a little tough to let that “lesson” go. Perhaps one of these days I’ll be ready to learn the art of letting go.

      Grandma still hang out and color (I can’t trust her with glue anymore . . . oh my the last time was a mess!). Instead of WTJ, I have her colored pages along with mine. The memories keep building. 🙂


  5. Trees are wonderful things. When I was learning about native spiritualism as research for my books, an elder told me that nature helps heal the soul. If you are sad or not feeling well, sit with your back against a tree, close your eyes and just feel the life around you.

    Also, my fifth grade teacher taught us how to draw trees. He never wanted any of his students to draw what he called ‘lollipop trees’, which were basically sticks with a round top for the leaves. He showed us how the trunk bent, how the branches stretched out from it and how the leaves clung to those branches. He was very inspiring.

    The Wrecked Journal idea is an interesting one. I love the page your grandmother gave you because of all the memories it brings to you. When you mentioned the ‘tomato’ pin cushion, it reminded me of my mother’s. I think I still have it somewhere. When she died, we had so many boxes of things to go through. We came across a box of her memories, like pictures of her volleyball team at school. I didn’t even know she played volleyball, let alone was on a team! My way of coping with her passing was to create a memory book about her, filling it with things like material swatches left from the many sewing projects she did over the years. Each swatch represented an item of clothing that I remember wearing or the curtains that hung in the living room for so many years. Creating the book was very cathartic and every once in a while, I still pull it out and remember the good times we spent together.

    You will be able to do that, too. Every time you look at that journal page, you will remember your grandmother and the good times you spent together. 🙂


    • This post was written after a particularly hard day of watching her battle her disease. Running my fingers over her page and touching each object instantly brought her back to me and I have so much faith in that magic continuing long after she’s gone.

      I love that you have the same sort of memories regarding your mother. The people we love never truly leave us as long as we choose to remember them . . . and sometimes even when we don’t.

      We have a beautiful pine tree in our yard (which is a rare thing where I live) and I can’t even begin to say how much comfort it brings to me. The swaying branches, the way it whispers in the wind, and the green it brings to my house makes it one of my favorite things about home.

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing your stories. 🙂


  6. I read this post with only one eye open since I have Wreck This Journal (thanks to your inspiration), but haven’t started it yet.

    What a transformational experience you’ve had. I love that family and friends joined you to make it an even more enriching experience.

    Maybe you need to do it again! 🙂


    • When you conclude The Artist’s Way, Wreck This Journal will be ready for you! 🙂

      I still have a number of pages left to complete in WTJ, but I’m content with taking my time on it. It’s a nice little project for when my muse it stuck or if have a few minutes to spare.

      Another one of Keri Smith’s books is waiting in the wings – Finish This Book. It looks pretty interesting and I’m anxious to start it as soon as my project load lightens up a bit. 🙂


  7. The items from your grandmother are so very special.

    I had Wreck this Journal but never completed it…I left it in a free bin at my local library in Alaska right before we moved back down south. Oh, well…hopefully someone found some surprise inspiration from it!


      • I went through something similar with my dad nearly seven years ago. There were moments we shared that I definitely treasure now, and it’s the small incidents that stand out the most, and the smallest things of his that bring back the memories. I also found I learnt so much about myself, and the way I want to live my life. So life-affirming, too.

        Hold on to the journey. 🙂


      • Even though there will be several bumps in the road, I intend to make the most of this journey. It’s nice to know I’m not alone – thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom. 🙂


  8. settleandchase

    Beautiful writing..and some lovely ideas..my Gran also has dementia, and I’ve felt very much the same way at times..the tiniest of things become so precious as you feel that person slipping away..


    • This post really showed me the healing nature of writing. I had been keeping all of this inside for such a long time and really all it needed was an outlet. Its still hard to see her struggle, but my patience is much better and my emotions are a little easier to control.

      Thanks so much for reading.


  9. I’ve seen these journals at my local bookstore! What a great way to capture what life’s really like and get the creative juices flowing! You’ve inspired me to do something similar! Thanks!

    Also: in honor of the Campaign, I’m engaging in some good old-fashioned chain mail! So, TAG! YOU’RE IT!

    You can check out the deets here: http://www.daisycarter.com/2012/02/11-questions.html

    Let me know if you decide to play along so I can come read your answers! If not, I’ll still be back to read your posts! 🙂



    • It was a great project to do with my grandma, especially since everything around her wasn’t making sense to her anymore. Wreck This Journal was a way to turn that confusion into something that wasn’t scary.

      Thanks so much for reading. 🙂


    • I just saw her last night and I saw her WTJ sitting on her table. I like to think she was looking at it this week and maybe remembering a few things. 🙂

      My page is a treasure and so is my grandma. 🙂

      Thanks so much for reading.


  10. emjayzed

    Sweet post, I love your memories of your grandma as it reminded me of mine who passed away some years ago. I wish I’d done something similar with her. She did leave a journal behind though – sort of a “this is your life” project we gave her for one of her birthdays. We didn’t know she used it until we cleared her home after she passed. I’ve started reading it but can’t bring myself to finish it, as if finishing reading will make her really gone.


    • My grandma made something very similar, prior to her diagnosis. I’ve had it for a while, but like you I have trouble getting through the whole thing. At the same, time I grateful to have such a meaningful trove of memories before she lost them.

      One thing I keep trying to remind myself is that the people we love never really leave us. Reading what they leave behind is one way to keep them close when they feel so far away.


      • emjayzed

        So true, I’m sure I will read it all some day but for now it lives by my bed providing some comfort for just being there 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.