21 February 2012

Step 16: Celebrate Your Story

A full list of the Simple Living Challenge steps can be found here.

Somewhere along our busy lives, where there is so much to buy, learn, and achieve we loose ourselves. Caught tightly between obligations, promises, agreements and disagreements life happens to us but we fail to notice it. We fail to live it to the fullest.

This is the second to last step in the Simple Living Challenge, and today I have invited Katie of Gadanke to help us stop and listen to our story. Because, really, we do deserve to live a deliberate life, we deserve a life enjoyed in good and bad.

Apart from making unique eco-friendly writing prompt journals for all occasions, Katie has been blogging about her handmade life. She aims to show her readers that a life of adventure and constant transition can be inspiring. On her blog you will find tutorials, handmade projects, challenges, tips for simpler and greener living, and lots of storycatching.

I believe an incredible thing happens when we pause to celebrate our stories. IT GIVES US MEANING. The ordinary starts to feel downright awesome. Unfortunately, it’s pretty easy to get distracted by stuff.

Are we good enough?
We’re being bombarded with these feelings that our lives aren’t good enough just how they are. We start believing that if we had xyz, our lives would be better. The problem with that, of course, is that the journey never ends. We always feel like we need the next thing. The desire for xyz never ends!

Slam on the breaks.

Stop feeling like you aren’t good enough.

Start celebrating the good things you already have in your life.

Emotions above possessions 
In 2007, my grandma and I stepped into NPR’s traveling recording studio called StoryCorp. The StoryCorp mission was to interview everyday people and record their stories. For about 30 minutes, I interviewed my grandma about her life.

She never said anything about assets; she never talked about things she had or didn’t have. She talked about people. She talked about adventure with people. She talked about dreams and hopes, hardships, and happiness.

When my grandma and I stepped out of the studio, we drove into the mountains. Our family had come home to celebrate our grandma at her 90th birthday. She brought along a walking stick my cousin had carved, and the glow of her face was addicting. “All of you come here for little old me?” she asked as we gathered around a huge potluck lunch.

That day changed my life.

I knew that people mattered so much more than anything I could ever own.

Celebrate life
I also knew that I had to find ways to preserve stories and celebrate life. Remember when Sonya reviewed one of my travel journals a few weeks ago? My working life is committed to story. The everyday story and the everyday person’s story.

Gadanke is my business dream come true. I use writing prompts to help people tell stories and focus on the good stuff. The loose rings let you tuck in all the bits you want to keep (cards, photos, ticket stubs...). Online, we’re becoming a community of storycatchers on facebook and my blog, Making This Home.

So as you try to live with less, clear the clutter, and really get down to the heart of what matters, remember story.

On Journal Keeping : Celebrate Your Story from Gadanke on Vimeo.

Share your experience: Have you been keeping a journal? Do you like to go back in your life and reevaluate? 

See also:
Step 1: Embrace Your Imperfections
Step 2: Simple Living as Men's Trait
Step 3: The Rules of Simple Home Organization
Step 4: Simple Crafting for Happy People 
Step 5: Simple Scheduling and Planning Routines
Step 6: Spend More Time With the People You Love 
Step 7: Spend More Time Alone 
Step 8: Connect to Your Inner Self 
Step 9: How to De-Stress 
Step 10: Learn to Live With Less and Enjoy it
Step 11: Start a Debt-Free Life
Step 12: How to Overcome Consumerism
Step 13: Declutter Your Life 
Step 14: Get Rid of Toxic Cosmetics and Reclaim Your Natural Self 
Step 15: Wean Off Plastic 
The Final Step: Gratitude 

Make sure you stay up to date with the Simple Living Challenge and subscribe by email to receive each post straight to our Inbox or by RSS if you are using a Reader.


  1. Replies
    1. Very inspirational indeed! Makes me want to journal back for as long as I can remember :)

  2. Such a fabulous video! I fell in love with Katie's journals when you presented them to us. I am definitely going to buy them for myself and my daughters! It's amazing how much we forget. I was kind of a nerd in college. I spent my days in class and my nights and weekends in the library. I was not a party girl, but I did have friends. We must have done things other than study, but for the life of me, I don't remember!Thank you Katie and Sonya for reminding us that our story is important!

    1. I hear ya, Laurie! I journaled like crazy during college but somehow completely skipped defining who I was or describing my heart.

    2. Well, ladies, I didn't journal and I don't remember much details either. When I go back to my earlier journals though it is like reading someone else's thoughts - it is so precious to be able to do that!

  3. I can really connect with this one. Such a lovely article and congratulations to Katie on her creativity and success! Her journals are so lovely and inspiring.

    - Brandi

  4. This is so true. I remember feeling sort of funny when I started blogging...I had doubts about writing and if anyone would really care about " my story ". But, time proved that I had nothing to fear! Bloggers love to tell their stories and share in other's. Now we are all apart of each others stories. Blogging allows us to elevate the ordinary every day because we are living in the moment. Whether it be in our kitchens, garden, out in nature, or our studios.
    My mother in law turns 90 in April. I love the idea of a story journal for her. All she talks about is the people she has known and knows, her good memories and those she loves. She also loves a trip to a good consignment store! SHE LOVES CLOTHES! Love this entry! Thank you!

    1. YES! Get your MIL to write some of those stories, Deborah. Or maybe you could write some that she's telling? Either way... good luck! Imagine what stories she could tell about clothes.

  5. I agree that once you really start to pay attention to your life and all of the moments in it, it all seems totally amazing. It's hard to believe that the beauty has been there all along... :) I've been journaling since I was very young, I have a whole hope chest full of old journals. There tends to be an ebb and flow to it all, when I'm in the process of figuring things out I tend to write more often and use it to help me see more clearly. I think Katie's journals are beautiful and an awesome way to document this journey we're on. :)

    1. Once you open your eyes life looks so much better, right? :)

  6. That is so true. Life is all about the people in your life and the time you spend together. I don't journal as often I I would like but I do journal all those important moments in my life and I have my daughter do it as well. I look forward to the day we go back and read about all those special moments from each of our perspectives.
    Everyday Inspired

    1. I sometimes hope that the good moments will stay in my memory but I have also noticed how journaling makes you create good memories!

  7. i love storycorp ...what a fabulous opportunity for you both!

  8. This sounds so obvious on the surface: value people over possessions- yet I find that I have to remind myself of this on an almost weekly basis. One small step is that I now tend to ask for experiences rather than objects as gifts e.g. a cookery lesson from my mum, a picnic with a friend etc. These are so much more valuable.Rx


    1. That sounds like a very important step! Asking for experiences instead of possessions as gifts takes a lot of courage. Good for you!

  9. Katie,
    You are living my dream job...your journals are thought provoking and cool. YOu have inspired me to get back to my daily writing practice and the importance of it! Thank you for the sparkes you have fired into my head and heart!

    1. Oooh, Julia. Thanks for the sweet note. Keep following that heart of yours. It knows what it needs.

  10. Very inspirational and a lot to think about (and start doing). Thanks so much!

  11. I just love your journals, Katie, and this post was fabulous! The story about your grandma is also fantastic, and it's so true - it's people and experiences that you remember for the rest of your life, not how much money you made or belongings you have. Fabulous post - thank you for sharing it with us! <3