10 WAYS I AM DOCUMENTING OUR NATIONAL PARKS ROAD TRIP

This is the trip of a lifetime, it deserves to be cataloged, documented, and remembered.

I love to document – professionally and creatively

During the planning stages of this 3 month road trip, Kyle often times asked me what I was most excited for. Of course there were family, friends, cities, and National Parks on my list, something else that really, really excited me was the creative freedom and endless possibilities to share and preserve these memories


NOW – these are the ways I’ve been capturing and recording memories so far during the first 2 weeks of our trip!

1 | Daily Journal

This is the place where I jot down our daily itinerary and whatever highlights, thoughts, feelings, and memories I might want to refer to later. While I would love this to be a beautiful, Instagrammable bullet journal, for now, it really is just chicken scratch, imperfect, and sloppy, but it gets the job done

I have started to include different lists here and there to expand on and revisit throughout our trip e.g. list of favorites and list of essentials

Blue Possibility Journal by Artist’s Loft linked here

2 | Instagram
Sharing life day to day while on the road, from our most recent brewery stop to our current National Park. I’ve been sharing both in my stories and on my feed in my personal Instagram and have made occasional posts about my current ebook read on my Bookstagram account

3 | Tik Tok
I’m still very much trying to figure this platform out. I don’t know that short form video is for me, but I’m giving it a go. Haven’t gone viral yet, but it could happen

4 | Passport To Your National Parks®

A classic for any lover of the National Parks. A handy travel companion that is functional and educational with color-coded regional maps and space for cancellations and commemorative stamps. The website description says it all, “The Passport Classic Edition is an ideal, economical, and portable way to preserve your fondest memories of America’s national parks.”
Passport can be found here

5 | Meryn Made Blogs
I did a fair amount of sharing while preparing for this trip including updates to our itinerary (most recent linked here) as well as my Road Trip TBR (linked here) and my personal To Buy List (here)

My plan is to share updates on the blog every 1 to 2 weeks that are a quick, basic overview of our itinerary with a handful of pictures – primarily to share on Facebook. GART update 1 can be found here


LATER – ideas or products I want to explore to commemorate this epic road trip!

6 | Postcards
While we plan to send out postcards to friends and family throughout the trip, I am also collecting a ton of postcards for future projects. One of my ideas is to bind them with binder rings (see below). Given the ring system, we could add in our own photos and journaling cards to further personalize the keepsake!

I’ve made a point to collect both cheap gas station postcards as well as really nice, and honestly expensive, postcards that are like mini pieces of art that could one day make a epic gallery wall installation – see pinterest inspo below

7 | Photo Books
To commemorate a 10 day, European vacation, I made a customizable photo book from Mixbook – exact style linked here, see below. Tip: you can almost always find a 50% coupon somewhere on the internet

I’m highly considering starting on a very simple, photo only book near the end of our trip so that we have it to share with friends and family right when we get home

After our trip, I’ll start in on a more in depth and comprehensive photo book which I hope will be both beautiful and a keepsake for our memories, but also semi-educational with facts about each National Park we visited

8 | Still Novel Art Prints

I stumbled upon Still Novel on, where else, but Instagram and love the idea of combining both an image with text highlighting facts about one specific city or state

According to their website, Still Novel prints “celebrate the destination and the journey. Our 16×20 Signature Travel Print tells the story of a trip and details that made it memorable”

9 | National Park Explorer’s Map
I have Tik Tok to thank for exposing me to this product and the husband and wife duo that run this business! The National Park Explorer’s Map is a magnetic map to display tokens of the parks you’ve visited. I like this as an alterative to the mass marketed scratch off maps as this system allows flexibility as new parks as added or upgraded to National Park status

10 | Mixed Media Scrapbook

I am the proud owner of this vintage, 1980s America’s Wonderlands full color book that I bought second hand for less than $30. My edition definitely has some wear and tear, but I think that gives it charm. Initially when I bought it, I thought I would be taking it into each park and stamping the corresponding pages, similar to that of our National Park Passports. What I didn’t realize when I bought the book was that the pages were glossy, which had me worried about smudging, so I scrapped the stamping idea for fear of ruining the book

What I think I’ll do instead is add in our photos and memorabilia directly into the book with adhesive photo corners and journaling cards. I’ll display the book on our coffee table and hope curious minds will open to find a surprise!

Until next time, Meryn


2021 ONE LITTLE WORD — INTENTION

It’s the middle of February and I am not feeling my original 2021 OLW. Let’s change it.

At the the end of 2020, I had picked what I thought was the perfect one little word (OLW) moving into the new, hopeful year of 2021 – maintenance. Despite the chaotic and unexpected year that was 2020, I worked hard to create healthy and suitable habits in many aspects of my life regarding physical, emotional, and financial health.

In January 2021, maintenance sounded like a great goal to have! Of course I wanted to keep exercising 5x/week and read everyday, because my biggest personal accomplishments in 2020 were a direct result of those habits. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t feel possible or sustainable at all right now to maintain these habits, at that’s okay. Because the fact of the matter is I’m not working out 5x/week, not even 3x/week, because I don’t have the motivation or desire to do so. What I want to do for myself and my mental health is run outside. But that’s also exactly the thing I am not willing to do in the middle of February when the average temp is mid to low 30s. So what’s the deal? Am I unmotivated? Lazy? No, I don’t think so. It’s just not the right time. I had the best of intentions for myself, but my lack of progress signals to me, this isn’t working. And instead of being upset with myself or engaging in negative self talk, I can just change my word. Simple as that.

That brings me right now, February 14th, 2021, at the time I’m writing. Yes, Valentine’s Day. I found myself standing in Kroger, waiting to order a Starbucks drink and sandwich [because #treatyoself] and as I looked around at all the people buying bouquets and chocolates, it hit me. I’d lost touch with reality. On the surface I knew it was Valentine’s Day; I’d seen the advertisements. The romance book recommendations. The cute red and pink heart decorations at work. Even enjoyed the heart shaped donut Kyle brought home from Dunkin’ for me the day before. But it wasn’t until I was standing in the grocery store that I realized I hadn’t made a single effort or attempt to celebrate or acknowledge the holiday.

From there, my mind began to spiral. Christmas effectively came and went with little to no lasting impression. No stockings. No wrapped presents. No family gatherings. And yes, obviously this was due to the pandemic. All to say this reminded me of the promise I made to myself that 2021 would be different. I’d be more present, despite how depressed I felt or how chaotic work became. No matter the excuses I made for myself. Then a new word hit me like a ton of bricks.

Intention noun
1: thing intended; an aim or plan
2: what one intends to do or bring about
3: a determination to act in a certain way, resolve

Intentional adjective
1: done on purpose; deliberate
2: done by intention or design, intended

What a cliché OLW, I know. But it feels right.

Here’s the ways in which I hope to be more deliberate moving forward in the year 2021, guided by my new OLWs, intention and/or intentional.

Environment
Last year, I fell into the habit of sitting on the couch with my laptop, purely due to comfort. Less time sitting at my desk resulted in less journaling, less time spent being creative, and my desk became cluttered, unruly, and unmanageable. Definitely not a sight for sore eyes.
1 | sit at my desk to check emails, write blog posts, journal, engage in creativity

Similarly, Kyle and I fell into the habit of eating meals on the couch as our schedules got crazier and crazier as the year progressed. We used to set up the dinner table and enjoy dinner together, sometimes with candlelight, and I want to get back to that.
2 | eat more meals with Kyle at our dining room table

I had some initial success with working out at home when all the gyms closed, then really fell into a routine running outside which gave me such mental clarity and emotional stability in what would prove to be the hardest year of my life professionally. But anymore, my desire and motivation to exercise in the home is non-existent, even for a 20 minute work out.
3 | return to the gym (when safe to do so), walk and run outside when the weather allows

“A place for everything, everything in its place.”
— Benjamin Franklin

Time
I have dozens of ideas in my head of creative projects, some I think I should do, some I want to do. Also a handful of mundane tasks that have been on my to do list for 3+ years. It’s time I either buckle down and complete these projects or determine what the barriers are limiting me from completing these tasks.
1 | ditch the creative ideas and projects that aren’t sparking joy, alter expectations

In 2020, I lost sight of maintaining healthy boundaries with work. There was a point where I was working every weekend, feeling obligated to my employer to work 6 to 7 days per week because work was sparse at times in the middle of a pandemic. In December I realized the extra $120 on a paycheck wasn’t worth it. The bliss of having an entire day away from work did so much for my mental health than the extra hundred bucks a paycheck.
2 | prioritize time with and for myself aware from work without guilt or shame

I’m notoriously bad at maintaining a morning and nighttime routine. I’ve fallen into the bad habit of sleeping in on work days if I know my schedule is lighter than usually, which often back fires because things always pop up. I justify these actions by convincing myself I’m spending time with Kyle when in reality, his sleeping body is just next to my sleeping body.
3 | wake up at the same time every work day, despite having a ‘short work day’

Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.
— Theophrastus

No one can know what the future holds, but this is a good enough place to start.

Until next time, Meryn


2020 ONE LITTLE WORD – DOCUMENT
2020 ONE LITTLE WORD – MID-YEAR UPDATE
2020 ONE LITTLE WORD – END-YEAR UPDATE

2020 ONE LITTLE WORD — END-YEAR UPDATE

A quick recap on what One Little Word is by creator, Allie Edward: “a word to focus on, to live with, to investigate, to write about, to craft with, and to reflect upon as I go about my daily life. These words have each become a part of my life in one way or another—a process I document via simple creative monthly prompts from January to December.”

To read my OLW introduction, click here, and to re-visit my mid-year update, click here

End-Year Update

1.
meryn made blog

Status: GOAL MET
I crushed this goal, if I do say so myself. Since it’s inception at the end of March, I’ve posted 50 blogposts in total in 2020, which just boggles my mind. My plan was to write about art, creativity, inspiration, physical therapy, and health and wellness. But, plot twist, what I’ve posted the most about is books and reading – so unexpected!

2.
Happy Planner daily fitness planner
Happy Planner daily journal

Status: PARTIALLY MET
Sitting undistributed and unopened for months, I blew off the dust and cracked open my fitness planner to see that I haven’t written in it since August 30th. That’s not to say I gave up on fitness in the second half of the year – quite the opposite, actually. As the summer days turned to fall and the cooler weather set in, I found myself wanting to run outside more, compared to exercising at home in our living room. Running became a very real form of therapy for me in October when COVID was running rampant in my nursing homes, taking the lives of so many. As a result, I stopped writing and reflecting in my fitness journal completely. I did continue to track my weight and measurements in my excel spreadsheet and the FitBit app through October 1st. But after I ran my quarantine half marathon on Halloween, I took the first 3 weeks of November off all exercise.

In a similar way, I kept up with weekly decorative planning in my happy planner through September, but fell off in October when COVID struck at work and never got back to creative daily planning. I continued to utilize my planner for planning, obviously, but it was pen and highlighter only.

3.
Card/invitation ring book
Beer stickers pocket pages
Travel stickers pocket pages

Status: NOT MET, NO PROGRESS
Yeah, I just never got around to any of these, but at least have an idea of the barriers limiting my progress, I think.

In regards to the card/invitation ring book, the hold up in my head is that I think everything that I need to complete this project is scattered all over the place, in various boxes both here in our apartment and back home. Which really shouldn’t be a barrier, I just haven’t prioritized this project.

I feel the same about the beer and sticker pocket pages as I did during the mid-year update – I just don’t want to invest time, energy, and money into a project when I can’t be certain myself or anyone else will actually look at it. Kyle and I did go through some of the beer stickers and turned them into magnets for our small beer fridge in our wet bar, so some of the (duplicate) stickers are on display.

4.
One Line a Day (OLAD) journal

Status: GOAL MET
I definitely met this goal and my OLAD is one of my favorite things I worked on this year. I started this journal thinking it would be so interesting to track the first 5 years of this new decade. Little did I know on January 1st, 2020, that this year would be simultaneously the best and worst, most transformative year of my life. And I have daily entries highlighting it all, for better or for worse!

I will say that I didn’t keep up with my daily entries like I would have hoped. In the last quarter of the year, there were times when I got 10-14 days behind and had to go back through my daily planner, camera photo roll, Instagram, and Twitter to fill in the one line prompt, but we made it work.

5.
Letterfolk passport update
2018 South Dakota/Wyoming road trip Mixbook
2019 Denver, Colorado trip vacation Mixbook
2020 Breckenridge ski vacation Mixbook

Status: NOT MET, NO PROGRESS
Yeah, literally no progress made on creating photobooks of the last few vacations I’ve taken. While I love the idea of having these memories and pictures in a physical, bound book, I rarely look at the one I made in 2018 for my trip to Europe. Maybe when Kyle and I have our own home and a proper place to store and display these books, I’ll feel more inclined and inspired to revisit this project.

Also never cracked open any of my Letterfolk passports, which could be due in part to little to no traveling this year. Honestly I never thought of them at all this year, out of sight out of mind I suppose.

Until tomorrow, Meryn


2020 ONE LITTLE WORD — MID-YEAR UPDATE

1.
meryn made blog

Status: GOAL MET → CONTINUE
I mean obviously, since you’re reading this blogpost right now. But honestly, I don’t know if I would have actually taken the plunge and started this personal blog without the onset of a global pandemic this past March. I didn’t really know what blogging would bring, but at the very least I knew that this season of life was going to be worth writing about – because never in my life did I think I’d live through a viral pandemic. It’ll be interesting to reflect on this time and go back and read old blogposts let’s say, 20 years from now.

I’m proud of myself for sticking to this new creative outlet. It’s hard to believe I’m almost to 30 posts since March! Right now, I’m totally content just posting whenever I want, writing about what’s going on in my life and the world. Some day it would be cool to generate some passive income off of ads, but I haven’t really looked into that just yet. For now, I’m having fun reflecting and writing on life as I know it.

2.
Happy Planner daily fitness planner
Happy Planner daily journal

Status: GOAL MET → CONTINUE
I started out very strong on this one, keeping up week to week with creative journaling in my big horizontal neutral and my vertical fitness/wellness Happy Planners. I was spending a lot of time being creative and was really keeping up with this practice through about the end of May, then work really ramped back up in June and hasn’t really slowed since (which I am so grateful for). But as a result, I am about a month behind in my fitness/wellness planner and a week behind in my daily journaling planner.

I really love the accountability my fitness/wellness planner gives me. It’s played a small, but important, roll in my weight loss journey this year. I find it so motivating to flip back through and see the progress I’ve made, physically and mentally. More on that can be found here.

3.
Card/invitation ring book
Beer stickers pocket pages
Travel stickers pocket pages

Status: NO PROGRESS, ONGOING
I haven’t forgotten about this goal, I just haven’t prioritized it at all. I think what is holding me back, at least with the beer and travel stickers pocket pages, is that I don’t want to unload a ton of money into something and not be certain that I’m going to love the end result. I also feel like maybe it’s not the right time to spend money on a non-essential hobby or craft, amidst this pandemic. Part of me also questions how much use or enjoyment a beer or travel sticker scrapbook will get. On one hand, I’m sure I’ll enjoy making it and flipping through it, but on the other, I don’t really expect my partner to have much interest. But at the same time, all these stickers are just sitting in a box otherwise, so why not have them displayed in a scrapbook, binder type system? Can you tell I’m still on the fence? To be continued.

4.
One Line a Day (OLAD) journal

Status: GOAL MET → CONTINUE
Another project I started out really strong, only ever getting a few days behind on but always catching back up. Then something happened around May that threw off my whole routine – we moved our couch in the living room. This sounds so insignificant, I know, but what happened as a result was that I spent more time on my laptop while sitting on the couch versus sitting at my desk (where I keep my OLAD journal). This all happened at the same time work was getting busy, so I wasn’t getting to my daily journaling in my big Happy Planner, and thus my OLAD journal was being neglected. I’m all caught up right now but I could definitely be better about sitting at my desk and getting back into the practice of daily journaling.

5.
Letterfolk passport update
2018 South Dakota/Wyoming road trip Mixbook
2019 Denver, Colorado trip vacation Mixbook
2020 Breckenridge ski vacation Mixbook

Status: NO PROGRESS, ONGOING
This is another set of projects I go back and forth on. I made a Mixbook of my 2018 trip to Europe, which I enjoyed doing, but how often do I look back through the photo book? 1 to 2 times per year? This is a project I’ll probably hold off until the fall/winter time anyways. I worked on the 2018 Europe book during the NFL season, a good two birds with one stone kinda deal. Will be even have professional football this fall? Now that’s a different story altogether.

Until tomorrow, Meryn


#THE100DAYPROJECT 2020 – I FAILED + THAT’S OKAY

Yes, it’s true. I gave up and didn’t finish #the100dayproject. Technically, the project is still going on, but I haven’t made or posted a cluster since June 1st which was day 56.

On June 2nd, the diverse and colorful world of Instagram came to halt when thousands and thousands of accounts posted a single black box for what would become known as #BlackoutTuesday. According to The New York Times, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, two Black women in the music marketing industry, proposed the music industry hold a day of reflection after the death of George Floyd. The movement quickly took off, expanding beyond the music industry to all facets of Instagram, to celebrities, major brands, and common, everyday users.

In an attempt to show solidarity for racial justice and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, I didn’t post my day 57 cluster. By Wednesday I could have returned to posting my daily clusters, but I just didn’t feel called or motivated to do so. I was getting bored of my project as is, so I quit. Simple as that. And I have not regrets.

Reflection
Overall I’m glad I participated in the project. It was a fun way to dig around my washi and sticker collection and a means to use some of the stickers I knew I wouldn’t use otherwise e.g. anything mom life related. The page by page, monochromatic story wasn’t my initial plan, but I love how it came together in the end.

Until tomorrow, Meryn


#THE100DAYPROJECT 2020 – 2ND QUARTER UPDATE

Recap
I must admit, this project is starting to feel stale, which is to be expected I suppose, and maybe the point? I’m still loving the movement through the rainbow by way of the monochromatic collages but I’m getting kind of sick of looking through the same sticker books. I’m getting close to the end of the journal I started in and will need to start a second book in the next week or so which is exciting.

One of my fears was that I would feel like I was ‘wasting’ stickers but as the project has progressed, I’ve realized I’m primarily selecting decorative stickers I would never use otherwise i.e. stickers with off the wall quotes or very specific themes I don’t particularly like. For the most, part I’ve been saving the functional stickers as those are what I actually see myself using in planner spreads and projects in the future.

If anything, this project has taught me that I have thousands more stickers than any one person could ever use. I remind myself that, if history is to repeat itself, MAMBI and The Happy Planner will continue to create beautiful and useful stickers – really it just keeps getting better and better, so #usethedamnstickers.

Until tomorrow, Meryn


#THE100DAYPROJECT 2020 – 1ST QUARTER UPDATE

Recap
And just like that, we are over 25 days into this project! Overall I would definitely say I’m happy with the project I picked. It’s simple, quick, and rarely leaves me feeling regret or second guessing my work. What started out as a random smattering of stickers and washi tape has turned into a simple but eye-catching monochromatic collage, progressing through the rainbow day by day, page by page. I have loved flipping through my Happy Planner supplies, hunting for and collecting one specific color – it has made the project easy and very straightforward, requiring 15 minutes or less each day. Below is a selection of some of my favorite monochromatic clusters so far, in rainbow order, of course.

Inspiration
As I got into the groove of this project, I started to see the similarities in this paper craft to what Amy Tangerine shares. Her craft projects are always very colorful and rainbow inspired, have layers and multiple pieces or embellishments. Here are a few examples from her instagram feed and the youtube video that I think was the unconscious inspiration for my project:

Plan
Moving forward I want to focus on the monochromatic clusters and collages because honestly those are the pages I love to flip through and I love seeing the rainbow build and flow from page to page – it creates a really fun visual experience (at least for me). I must admit I am getting kind of nervous because some of my Happy Planner sticker books are looking bare, which is good because that was the point, to use what I have in an attempt to not hoard. So far, I’d been selecting and including stickers that I didn’t think I would ever really use otherwise, but sooner or later, I’ll have exhausted those cast offs. Oh well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Until tomorrow, Meryn


#THE100DAYPROJECT 2020

Introduction
According to their website, #The100DayProject is “a free art project that takes place online. Every spring, thousands of people all around the world commit to 100 days of exploring their creativity. The idea is simple: choose a project, do it every day for 100 days, and share your process on Instagram with the hashtag #The100DayProject.”  What started as a workshop for graduate graphic design students at the Yale School of Art, instructed by Michael Bierut (read more about his reflection on the course and it’s impact here), has become a springboard for creation and imagination in the creative community. The first time I had heard of the project was from Paige Poppe in 2017 when she announced her project #100DaysofVideosWithPaigePoppe (intro video linked here). Since then, I have thought about the project each spring but have never felt inspired or called to participate.

Inspiration
This year, participating in #The100DayProject wasn’t even on my radar until I watched Elise Joy’s Instagram stories where she was answering questions about the project – documentation, inspiration, and motivation. My first thought was 100 days of lettering because that’s an art form I enjoy and could improve in, but that felt daunting –not only would have to actually letter the daily prompts, but it would also require me to spend time each day selecting a word or phrase, which felt like a second project in of itself. An hour later, inspiration struck while in the shower: #100daysofcreativeclusters. Heavily inspired by Ali of According to Ali (youtube, instagram) with her “clusters not clutter” in her Happy Planner spreads, which I love.

Plan
I have an endless supply of journals, notebooks, stickers, washi tape, markers, and pens, so why not combine them all into one? Lord knows I have thousands of Happy Planner stickers and I would love to burn through some. Plus, I think it’ll be fun to flip through the pages of the book for color, texture, and composition inspiration. Today is day 4 and I’m happy with what I’ve created so far! Though I will say that these pages feel more like collages rather than clusters, but it’s fine, totally fine. I like the openness and fluidity of this project and that I can do a 180* flip if things start to feel stale!

Until tomorrow, Meryn


2020 ONE LITTLE WORD — DOCUMENT

Introduction
According to her website, in 2006, Ali Edwards began a tradition of choosing one word for herself each January – “a word to focus on, to live with, to investigate, to write about, to craft with, and to reflect upon” as she went about her daily life. Since then, she has turned this concept into a creative project that centers around a year-long workshop “designed to inspire that offers creative prompts and encouragement as you let the word into your life.”  

I believe the first time I heard of the concept of One Little Word (OLW) was in 2014 during my college CHAARG days. It wasn’t until 2019 when I started listening to the Crafty Ass Female podcast that I was inspired to participate in OLW. I had just started listening to podcasts during my daily work commute when I came across this episode (originally posted in 2017) where the hosts discussed their OLW history and thoughts on picking a new word for 2018.

Selection
In late 2019, when I decided I wanted to pick a OLW to focus on for the coming new year [and decade – holy cow], the word document immediately jumped out at me. At the time I had already decided I wanted my brother to purchase me a One Line A Day: 5 Year Memory book (inspired by Elise Joy, linked here) for Christmas, so the thought of daily documentation and journaling was at the forefront of my mind, or at least my Christmas wish list. I had been journaling daily since November 2018 and was really enjoying this practice. In November 2018, I was 1 month into my first job as a new grad physical therapist and I started using my Happy Planner to journal about the ins and outs of my job – the patient successes and failures, the good days and the really really hard days, a habit I have continued but has changed along the way.

Irony and Intention
Quite frankly, this is an ironic OLW given my career as a physical therapist where there is so much emphasis on daily documentation, both the accuracy/attention to detail and the time commitment. If my memory serves me, I think both members of my #girlgang (also in healthcare) chuckled when I announced the selection of my OLW. Irony aside, I also recognize how monumental this next decade of life will be. Between the years of 2020-2029, it is likely the following life events will occur: adopting a pet, changing jobs, getting engaged, purchasing a home, getting married, going on a honeymoon, starting a family – to name a few. What better time to document and have record of my life?

Initial Goals
When I sat down at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 to set some intentions and goals surrounding my OLW, the following 5 categories and plans emerged:

1.
Meryn Made blog

2.
Happy Planner daily fitness planner
Happy Planner daily journal

3.
Card/invitation ring book
Beer stickers pocket pages
Travel stickers pocket pages

4.
One Line a Day (OLAD) journal

5.
Letterfolk passport update
2018 South Dakota/Wyoming road trip Mixbook
2019 Denver, Colorado trip vacation Mixbook
2020 Breckenridge ski vacation Mixbook

OLW goals page in my 2020 Happy Planner, created with Amy Tangerine collaboration insert paper

There you have it, a look into the history of OLW, my selection, and expectations for the word document in 2020.

Until tomorrow, Meryn


photo source: AMXO