Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Secrets of the Everyday Adventure

A road trip across the American West. Exploring Iceland.  Relaxing on Italy's Amalfi Coast. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Each of these are easily classified as adventures, but discovering a lifetime of adventures does not require plane tickets or a passport. The secret to the everyday adventure is to start with your own backyard.

Yes, Dorothy, if you ever go looking for your heart's desire again, you don't have to go further than your own back yard. The Wizard of Oz taught us more than how to escape from vindictive apple trees and flying monkeys. The story shows us that the best things in life are often so close to us we could touch them, if we could only see them.

For as long as I can remember, I have incorporated mini-adventures into my life. I watched people take these grand trips across oceans and continents, while secretly wondering if I would ever be able to live their life. One day, I decided to explore the area close to me rather than envy their explorations of faraway lands. Once I decided that adventure could be found in a local museum or a hike through the woods, adventures showed up in my life every day.

Some of the best days have been spent lost in the wonders of my own backyard. A recent trip to several historic grist mills is a good example. For the cost of a tank of gas and lunch, I gained as much relaxation and inspiration as a week-long vacation. An everyday adventure includes only two things: a willingness to go somewhere new and an open mind to see what it has to offer. Reflecting on that statement for a moment brings many ideas to mind, like:
  1. Perusing the aisles of local junk shops, on the great hunt for a new somethin'-somethin' to add to your home.
  2. A picnic at the local park followed by a walk and a few turns on the swings.
  3. Driving the back roads to work or the market, with eyes wide open to spot unexplored places.
  4. A leisurely afternoon at a museum, reading all the display information at your own pace.
  5. Trying a new restaurant OR going to a familiar restaurant and ordering something other than "your usual."
  6. Finally going to that festival in a nearby town that you have always wanted to attend.
  7. Learn a new skill whether that is at the local college, or an online class, or even by watching YouTube videos!
Most of all, remember to document your adventure so you can refer to it again. That may be by buying a simple souvenir along the way as a memento or taking photos. Perhaps you are one who likes to journal about your adventures or write a blog post (yeah, this is my category). If available, buy a postcard on your adventure and mail it to yourself so days later you can remember how good you felt at that moment.

Document Your Everyday Adventure 

Recently, I discovered a clever tool to motivate, plan, and document those adventures in Sarah Shotts' "Venture Planner." This darling downloadable planner gives the user several options on both size and style, and hell, it's just fun to create!

After purchasing the Venture Planner for $20 US, I was surprised to see all that it included. Honestly, the primary reason I purchased it was to support another's creative endeavor (which is a good habit to cultivate, by the way -- try it!) but was pleasantly surprised by what was included in the package AND the amount of flexibility it offered. Sarah's got it goin' on!

So what's included, you ask? Think of this as an electronically delivered "kit" to build your own personalized planner. Not only does it begin with a lively Welcome Letter and easy instructions, the planner pages themselves are dotted with cheery artwork that bring a smile and streamlined prompts to encourage one to see adventure all around. The package includes four sizes of pages, allowing the user to print their preferred style. Once the size is selected, each size has four different types of pages, including daily, weekly, monthly, and checklist pages. Each of those page types has five themes from which you can choose. See? Flexibility and customization abound! On top of that, Sarah throws in bonuses of printable stickers to embellish your planner, an Adventurer's Handbook to help you find your everyday adventures, and even more inspiration than that.

Several varieties of pages are included -- print one style or print them all!
Several varieties of pages are included -- print one style or print them all!
I chose the Midori size, which has finished measurements of roughly 4.5 inches wide by 8.5 inches long. Other sizes include full page (8.5 x 11), half page (5.5 x 8.5) and personal (3.7 x 6.7). After selecting the size, it's a matter of printing your pages and assembly. This is where your creativity steps into the process. I won't go into great detail with my process, so not to influence your process, but these are just a few photos and tips.

I liked all the themes so I printed several pages of all the themes, utilizing double-sided printing by printing on one side of the page and reloading those pages to print on the other side. Since I chose the Midori size, I trimmed the edges to size, stacked them, and set them aside to work on the cover.

But first, chose your binding and cover style.
But first, chose your binding and cover style.
Booklet covers are easy and fun to make and do not have to be expensive, in fact, they can be made completely out of found materials. Starting with the cardboard of a cereal box, I cut the front and back covers to size and then slathered them with glue, when I adhered pretty scrapbook paper to cover each side (hint: use a scraper to smooth out the paper and prevent bubbles -- an old credit card works great). I cut two pieces, one for the front and one for the back, and connected them with washi tape I had on hand (hint: leave a 1/4 inch gap between the two sides of the cover when connecting them with the washi tape for the binder). No scrapbook paper? Look around the house for wrapping paper, brown paper sacks, newspaper, or magazine pages. OR, cover the cardboard with artist's paper and unleash your inner artist! No washi tape? Use fun duct tape or simple packaging tape.

A pamphlet stitch was just the ticket for binding my planner.
A pamphlet stitch was just the ticket for binding my planner.
Once the cover is ready, position the stacked pages of the planner on top, right where you want them to stay. I used a simple sewn binding, which means the next thing I did was punch five evenly placed holes through all the pages and into the cover. The pointy end of a compass works great, but you can use a large needle, a kitchen skewer, or a nail (just be careful with all pointy things so you don't get blood on your new planner). With a large needle, I chose a heavy string and sewed what is called a pamphlet stitch (I'll let these folks give you the details). Once you do this a time or two, you will make little booklets for everything.
Remember the gap between the front and back cover where we fastened the two side together with washi tape? That became the fold of the cover. The gap between the cardboard, which is covered with the tape, is where the pamphlet stitch will fasten. It's easier to stitch through washi tape than cardboard (trust me on this one).
The gap in the washi tape for the cover allows you to more easily stitch through the pages and secure them to the cover.
The gap in the washi tape for the cover allows
you to more easily stitch through the pages
 and secure them to the cover.
Voila! The clever personalized planner is ready for it's first adventure! Wait, making this planner was an adventure of its own, unleashing the creativity within you and learning along the way.

Where Will You Go?

I would love to hear your ideas about how you incorporate everyday adventures into your life. Whether grand or small, experiencing something new is a great way to enliven the spirit and make your life anything but ordinary. Share your adventures (or ideas for adventures) in the comments or by using the hashtag #myeverydayadventures on Twitter or Instagram.

Let's explore!

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