Being a working mum of a toddler severely affects your free time in general, but I've found it particularly diminishes the time I have to read.. So when I can steal an hour or two, whether it's on a solo train journey, or a rare moment when my 'to do' list has become blank (pretty much never!) I do enjoy to spend that time either with a gripping novel or an inspiring creative book.
I'm often asked as an editor and blogger who I am inspired by, and I always say, without a doubt - other creatives. And when asked where I find inspiration, my answer is usually - from the books, blogs, homes and lives of said creative people. So these two books I recently treated myself to, absolutely hit the nail on the head for me as truly inspiring reads. Both are penned by creative women who started blogging as a means of expression, and it was this activity that later led them to many great adventures and projects. Very similar to my own experience.
I read Fine Little Day by Elisabeth Dunker in one sitting during a train journey and was blown away by her openness and her effortless creativity. She talks of her childhood obsession with her camera and taking what we now call 'selfies' as well as her slightly haphazard and spontaneous approach to blogging. I felt a real affinity with Elisabeth's story, and how she has got to where she is today - no solid plan, just going with the flow and following the creative path as it unfolds in front of her.
The book itself is mainly photographs, interspersed with narrative from Elisabeth, explaining her love of collecting certain items, snippets from her home, simple craft projects and moments from family life. Heart warming and endearing, both through Elisabeth's honest words and beautiful photographs, it made me yearn to step into her shoes for a day to experience what seems a very free way of living creatively.
The other book is A Year of Mornings. This book was actually published in 2008, so I am VERY late to the party on this one! In fact, authors Maria Alexandra Vettese and Stephanie Congdon Barnes, are soon to publish another book entitled Year Between Friends: 3191 Miles Apart (*quick;ly adds to wish list!)
3191 Miles Apart is the name of the blog the two ladies set up as a collaborative photography project at the end of 2006. Separated by 3191 miles, Maria in Portland, Maine and Stephanie in Portland, Oregon, the two found they had a creative connection that surpassed the distance between them. A love of early mornings and for capturing the simplicity and beauty of daily life, they embarked on a project to snap and share one photo every morning for a year.
Apart from the foreword and introduction, this book is purely a photographic essay of the two woman's respective lives on opposite sides of the US. But no words are required, as the narrative that runs through the images, categorised by the seasons, is enough to tell the story. It takes me back to my time studying photography at university when I was highly influenced by photographers who captured those mundane moments in life, yet made them beautiful. After an evening absorbing the imagery, I felt lighter and happier in myself. It is a reminder that even with all the tragedy and sadness in the world today, it is those tiny magical moments of every day life that we must notice and cherish. Whether that is a shaft of bright sunshine streaming across your kitchen table, a sweet handwritten note left by a child or hearing a favourite song on the radio, these simple pleasures must be treasured - and Maria and Stephanie have expressed this perfectly through their project. I can't wait for their next book.
Are there any books that have quietly inspired you and left you reflecting on it weeks after reading it? I'd love to hear your suggestions - I definitely need more of these moments in my life!
All photos: Caroline Rowland