Curiosity Journal: July 6, 2011

Each Wednesday I’m recording a Curiosity Journal, a recap of the past week. Tag words are: reading, playing, learning, reacting and writing.


Some of you have mentioned that you’re keeping a Curiosity Journal, as well. Leave your link in the comments so that we can visit and enjoy your weekly review.


I finished The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. To raise her happiness quotient, Rubin identified areas to explore and improve over the course of a year, dedicating a month to such goals as boosting energy, improving her marriage, making time for friends and pursuing a passion.While finishing up the last few chapters, I realized how personal a project like hers has to be; how each reader would have to define his own modest or audacious goals and resolutions. Though I won’t be launching a year-long happiness project, I am inspired to experiment with activities and evaluate values that may be misaligned or neglected.At her blog by the same name as the book, Rubin encourages others to pursue happiness in practical, measurable ways. This month’s theme at her blog is “creativity” and this week’s resolution is to do something every day. You can watch her vlog to learn more.I pulled another book off my shelf, but hesitate revealing the title because it is so over-the-top. I don’t want you to think I’m too big for my britches.Oh, I’ll tell you anyway. It’s called How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day, by Michael J. Gelb.The first step to genius (stop snickering) is “Curiosità: An insatiably Curious Approach to Life and an Unrelenting Quest for Continual Learning” (Gelb 48).As you probably know, da Vinci’s notebooks model vibrant curiosity and creativity. Questions, observations, and sketches of fanciful inventions as well as meticulous anatomical studies cover the pages.I’ve resolved to get a blank book to serve as a Leonardo-style journal. Presumptuous? Perhaps. But, hey, it’s a free country. And while genius is rare, nice blank books are easy to come by, so they must be intended for the common man. Just imagine if, while writing and sketching, more and more people tap into latent genius just waiting to express itself on those clean white pages.Gelb encourages a few curiosity-starters for one’s journal, including ten “power questions.” The first one could launch a fascinating self-analysis session:“When am I most naturally myself? What people, places, and activities allow me to feel most fully myself?” (Gelb 60).I scribbled it in my old lined journal this morning, but haven’t fully explored it yet nor reached a conclusion. How about you? When are you most naturally yourself?


On Sunday, to participate in Monday’s Gratitude Community at Holy Experience, I poked around our property looking for stuff I’m grateful for—stuff that makes me happy. Now I see why Claire Burge, photo editor for TheHighCalling, coined the name “PhotoPlay” to capture the fun of our community photography projects. As I moved in close or experimented with angles, I realized how much I love it.


Thanks to Charity, I learned about the bokeh effect. And then on my photo outing, I happened to snap a shot that produced those blurred circles of light shimmering in the background, lending a hint of mystery or romance to an otherwise mundane scene.I’m tickled, I tell you.This happy accident reawakened my long-time desire to be a better photographer, so when I stumbled upon Shelli at Hopefully Devoted and she sent me to Darcy’s “31 Days to a Better Photo” series, I bookmarked it and took note of the first two assignments.Day 1: Take the photo. “You will never get a second chance at that moment,” Darcy advises. “It’s a simple one, clearly. But how many times have you meant to bring the camera but didn’t?”Day 2: Find your camera manual. Implied, of course, is to find and read your camera manual. I’ve found it; now I need to read it.


I guess the biggest news is the Casey Anthony “not-guilty” verdict, but I haven’t been following it closely enough to react publicly.


My continual flow of words has splashed across the computer screen and into a blog post or dribbled more slowly onto the physical pages of a bound journal. No big projects are in progress at the moment, however, unless you count the writing class for which I’m prepping. And I don’t count that, so you shouldn’t, either.

Work Cited:Gelb, Michael J. How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day. New York: Dell, 1998. Print.
Image Credits:Leonardo Notebook by Todd Dailey. Used under a Creative Commons license via
“Question Proposed” photo by Ethan Lofton. Used under a Creative Commons license via
Book cover, day lily, camera manual, and clothespin photos by Ann Kroeker.

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  • Comments

    1. I’ve been using my blank book since Lent–one my mom gave me who-knows-when. I don’t know what it is about writing in pencil, but it’s much more powerful than all the writing I do via keyboard.

      • annkroeker says:

        I used to LOVE to sketch, and Gelb includes drawing lessons in the da Vinci book, so I’m kind of glad my lined-paper journal is just about full so I have an excuse to go get a true blank book and turn it into a commonplace book with observations, quotations, sermon notes, sketches, and, of course, questions. Maybe I can think of it as my true, everyday Curiosity Journal (with this weekly post merely summarizing electronically what I’ve fully explored and recorded in the blank book)?

    2. I envy and admire those for whom doodling and sketching in journals comes naturally. Your post today reminded me of Edith Holden’s Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. Maybe I’ll go pull it off the shelf today. “When am I most naturally myself?” Good question for me to mull. “Find your camera manual.” In my case, I’d also have to find my reading glasses so I could see the settings on those tiny little dials. Always love your Curiosity Journal, Ann.

      • annkroeker says:

        Oh! I have that book, too, and I know right where it is! I also have a really neat nature journaling book that I loaned to my curious, artistic daughter. Those two alone may inspire some sketching, though it’s been a long time since I’ve explored my artistic side.

        I did start reading my little camera manual and learned a couple of settings I can start using, so Darcy was right. I need to know what my camera equipment is capable of.

    3. I happen to think there is no end to your genius. It’s just waiting for a proper notebook to spill over and find it’s place on paper. What a great idea, and what a fun book.

      And I did really love your pictures from the weekend. I think I mentioned it in an email, but not here, in public. You have an eye for beauty.

      • annkroeker says:

        Awww…you’re too kind.

        By the way, I bought a notebook today–I’ll show you tonight and you can tell me if you think I should get the next size bigger. I’m not sure if bigger notebook = bigger genius, so I don’t want to limit myself with too small of a space to work. I need a second opinion.

    4. Once again, I am so glad I stopped by! It sounds like you found a great site in that 31-days to a better photo. I’m going to have a look around there. Always need tips. Still trying to figure out the bokeh effect.
      I agree with Charity. You do have an eye for the beautiful in your photos. Enjoyed the ones for Multitude Monday.
      If you get a chance, stop by my place. I have photos from our Alaskan cruise. Will probably show some delicious food presentations from the cruise on your Food on Fridays.

      • annkroeker says:

        Hi, Janis!

        Yes, that 31-days project started so simple and basic, I thought that it was exactly where I needed to start. If I get started with someone who starts tossing around too many technical terms from the beginning, I’ll be lost. But “find your camera manual”? I can do that. :)

        I even read it, sitting by the pool yesterday! You have a great eye, too–love those flowers, swaying on the ends of those long stems.

    5. The blank book idea sounds wonderful. I have one that I started, but never quite did anything with – I think having some journal prompts/inspiration starters could really help me to take off with it. Thanks for sharing those!

      I want to read the Happiness Project, too. Gretchen Rubin is just awesome.

      • annkroeker says:

        Megan, sometimes I get big ideas and they go nowhere. But I figured that if I didn’t sketch or do anything unusual in it, I can just use it as my next basic journal…just without lines. My handwriting will go uphill or downhill across the page. Could be amusing, maybe a mood-indicator. Summertime: loopy and uphill; winter: scrunched and down.

      • annkroeker says:

        Oh, also, you should go to the Happiness Project blog and click on that video–I was surprised to hear her voice. For some reason, I envisioned it much higher while reading her book!


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