Just Make A Mark…And See Where It Takes You

Tracie, from Cleverly Inspired, contacted me about participating in a traveling art project recently. I loved the idea of collaborating on something like this, so I wrote her right back and told her that I was definitely up for the fun.




She sent me a tube full of supplies and inspiration, and when I’m done with my part, it’ll travel to three more bloggers, and then back to Tracie in Kentucky. She’s going to hang the final result in her office after she puts her finishing touches on it.

Now I don’t know if this has ever happened to you when it comes to creativity and collaborating- but what started out sounding like a really fun idea, quickly became really intimidating. I stared at that big, blank piece of paper, on and off, for three days- just trying to come up with something that I thought Tracie would like. I did not want to mess it up. I questioned every idea I had, and I kept thinking about all the other participant’s styles. I started wishing I could’ve gone last, instead of first.

Then right around that time, I had a really bad day with a roll of bird and cloud-covered wallpaper, so I decided I needed to take a little break from all-things creative and paper-y. I needed to Clear my head…and start when it wasn’t so hard to start.

A few days later I remembered a line from one of my all-time favorite books…


Just make a mark and see where it takes you.


So I’ve decided to “make lemonade” by using some of the leftover, salvageable scraps of wallpaper that I couldnt bring myself to throw away last week. Yep. I’m “putting a bird on it” today, and who knows, maybe that “mark” will lead to a cut-out cloud or two, too.

PS- The book is called The Dot, by Peter Reynolds, and I wanted to share this post to (hopefully) encourage others that may be struggling to find the “art in start” right now. My wish is that you feel inspired to make a mark today, too!

Half Bathroom Update - Sink
Half Bath Update - Paint and Paper

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  1. Heather Patterson says

    This is me. You are reading my mind. I have not decorated my house, now mind you, we have lived in it for 5 years, because I don’t know where to start and the thought of starting, let alone finishing, the decor is jus too much. This year is the year….I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!!!

      • says

        I’m sorry you struggled with the bathroom wallpaper….it sounds like it was very disheartening. But what a blessing to have wiling and capable hands help you finish the job. I’m glad! I’m sure the end result will be something you love.
        I’ve been thinking about your adoption-hoping for an encouraging update soon. I will pray for you that God will help things go smoothly and quickly, and that you wil soon hold your Sweet P.


    • Alise says

      I ready your post and I feel the exact same way… we’ll be in our house five years this summer and aside from painting one room the weekend we moved in, we haven’t touched anything else in it! I look around my house and think “It still feels like someone else’s house!” But I ordered “The Dot” (that quote is amazing), and can’t wait to make a mark.
      Thanks, Layla, for the inspiration. And thanks, Heather, for your honest post!

  2. Lisa Frank says

    I just wanted to let you know as an FYI that I subscribe through Google+ and your last 3 posts have not been showing up on my homepage. (The last one that works was how to touch up photos.) I just tried re-subscribing to see if that fixed the problem, but it didn’t. Just wanted to tell you, in case others were having this problem and missing posts. I don’t want to miss any of the goodness! :)

    • Layla says

      Hi Lisa! Yeah, I guess our Feedburner isn’t really working anymore (and rumor has it, Google Reader is going away forever soon)- so I’ll have to figure out how to offer a subscriber service. I wish things like that would just stay working- I’m so bad with technical stuff! 😀

    • Julie B. [Holland] says

      I had this prob on another site and it seemed to fix itself altho I cant keep my Name and email on this site but on the other site with word press I can . I have to add my name here everytime I want to make a comment. But its ok … I get all the posts and dont mind to type :)

  3. TracieMcOB says

    Hi Layla, I subscribe to your blog via Google Reader. For some reason, new posts from your blog are not coming through. Has anyone else had this problem? I am getting the current feed from my other blogs.

    Thanks so much. I don’t want to miss a thing :)
    Tracie (not from KY 😉

  4. says

    Oh yes….I’ve done artistic round robins before, with altered books, ATC’s, and with other things, and it always sounds like a really cool and fun idea, then I get the supplies and I panic. lol

    Thankfully I work well under pressure. lol

    “Putting a bird on it” has become such an Oregon saying (Portland in particular). For the longest time I had no clue what it was all about. I’m not a city girl, I live well outside of Portland and it’s another world in and of itself. lol

    Good luck, and have fun!

  5. Pam says

    Sometimes, in fact quite often for me, just getting started is the hardest part. I often lie in bed, unable to sleep, fretting over a project that I can’t find the start point for. And then, usually in the shower the next morning for some odd reason, everything becomes so clear, like a light is shining on the start point. I have been told by more than one person, just go for it. If the first step is a misstep, you haven’t gone so far that you can’t adjust it!

  6. says

    Layla! I’m honored to be mentioned in your blog – and for that line to get stuck in your head to be pulled out to give you that nudge forward. Have you read my book, Ish? It is a companion book and especially speaks to those frozen by perfection-ism. While I’m at it – Sky Color is the 3rd in my “Creatrilogy” series. : ) Thanks again for weaving me into your journey. Peter

    • Layla says

      Peter! I cannot tell you how fun it was to log on and see your name pop up here! I read your books ALL the time, and they’re so pretty I even display them as art in my secretary desk. :-) I have always wanted to reach out to you, and BOOM! Here you are! I’m off to find Sky Color now. Thank you so much for brightening my day! 😀

  7. Toni C. says

    Exactly what I needed to hear today… debating over and over in my own little head & totally starting to stress myself out. Do I go forward in quest to start my own photography business or is it just too much right now? Am I taking too much time away from my family… (because I am still working my “makin’ money” full time & demanding job) But I think you are right~ I need to slow down, take a deep breath, make a mark & see where it takes me. Thank you!

    • Layla says

      Yes! I think slowing down and taking a deep breath is SUCH a good way to calm yourself so that you can think more clearly. Please keep me posted on your mark making! 😀

  8. mindy says

    Layla, that is my favorite book!! I love that you posted about it. It’s just perfect for so many situations. I use it in my classroom to inspire myself and my students. I want to be that kind of teacher. And I want my students to believe in themselves.

    Can we see the finished product when Tracie gets it back?

    Btw, I just love you. The Lettered Cottage makes me smile every time I click over.

    • Layla says

      Mindy, you are just the sweetest! Thank you SO much for leaving me this comment to find. I can’t tell you how much your kind words mean to me. XO :-)

  9. Anne says

    Hi, what is the lovely white and green floral fabric that is showing in these photos? Do you know the design name and/or brand?


  10. says

    This was just the inspiration I needed to push through my grad school work. Thanks! :) I also LOVE Peter Reynolds; Ish and The Dot are two of my favorite books to use in my classroom. Fun fact, we also went to the same college and he was the speaker at my undergrad graduation!

  11. says

    Whoops! I probably should have made sure my comment wasn’t attached to another one, but unfortunately I’m not technologically adept! :) I’m glad you found inspiration for the art project. Sometimes when I’m feeling like my energy is running low, I remember the blue fish in “Nemo”‘ called Dorrie, chanting, “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…” it makes me smile.

    You can do it!

  12. Rhonda Irizarry says

    I love hearing these stories…Not because I’m happy that you all struggle so hard to start, it’s just good to know I’m not alone.. We just don’t like “messing up” and like anything creative we feel vulnerable when we put ourselves out there. Starting is the beginning to reveal to others something personal.

  13. Sarita says

    I went to amazon.com and bought the dot! I bought it for myself and also for my three grandsons. We can all make a mark on someone else’s life. I want them to learn that also.

  14. Tamara says

    Read this book for a graduate school project a few years ago and I think about the message when I am discouraged or doubtful. You so made my day with this post!!!

  15. Sarah says

    “Start by Starting” is the little saying I had written on a 3 x 5 index card hung where I could see it everyday. Getting started is the hardest part!

  16. says

    Sometimes I think the world is trying to tell me something. Today as I was picking my sons up from school, I noticed a display of art on one of the classroom bulletin boards. I have seen lots of interesting art in the schools, but I rarely take the time to look closely. But this art was particularly interesting and I actually stopped to enjoy it. The title on the bulletin board said “These are our dots. Look where they took us.” I was not familiar with the reference, but then I sat down this evening for a little blog-reading and I found out. So cool!