December Daily, Day 5 (what if your days are a little blue?)

Cathy ZielskeScrapbooking29 Comments
December 5th was a sucky day in general. Stuff happened, as it will in this life, that wasn’t really fun or bright or merry.

I’m not going to go into the details and the reason is that some stories just need to stay in private spaces. Fair enough, right? But I think we all know what it’s like to have a hard day. Maybe one with some tears. Maybe one with some pain. Maybe one wherein you’d like a do-over.

And when you’re just starting out a project like December Daily, what do you do? Include the story? Gloss over it? Omit it completely? Or pretend like it never happened?

When Ali posted her free “embrace the mess” word art the other day, I thought: yep, I can use that.

I chose to include my experience of the day, which was simply: it suuuuucked. I’m not sharing the journaling here today, because even though I write about my experience, I don’t want to overshare and overstep my family boundaries.

But I wanted to post this to acknowledge those of you for whom this season is challenging or for whom it brings up sadness. We are a complicated species, us humans. We can’t just be “rolled back” like the hosts on my new favorite HBO series, Westworld.

Stories are stories and they really do show us who we are and what our experience of this life is. I say honor them all, even the ones that are a little bit harder.

You can always tell the story from your perspective and what you think it means to you. That’s one way to include something that’s not exactly merry.

Yesterday was a better day. Such is the delicious rollercoaster of life, my friends. Onward.


Cathy ZielskeDecember Daily, Day 5 (what if your days are a little blue?)

29 Comments on “December Daily, Day 5 (what if your days are a little blue?)”

  1. #1

    I completely agree with everything you wrote here. Because we don’t do our December “book” as daily stories but more of a culmination of what happened in the entire month, the stories of things that We don’t want to share with everyone go into our main album for the year and the December book remains focused on what we are thankful/grateful for in Dec. Our dec books are out on a shelf in the family room all year long. Our daily books are in our office/studio and not as easily accessible to every visiting guest.

  2. #2

    Oh, Kathy. This one hit home. I was all caught up on my 2016 Project Life album (done on my phone with the app) when, almost three weeks ago, my 27-year-old son died of an apparent heart attack. Devastated doesn’t begin to describe how we are feeling. I took his scrapbook to the memorial service; I was so grateful then for this hobby, as people studied every page and saw my beautiful boy go from infant to young man, and read his funny stories, and just saw his life unfold. But now I don’t know what to do with my PL album. I’m sure that sounds trivial at a time like this, but it’s almost as if those pages are mocking me with their pictures of my happy family. So I don’t know. I do know I don’t have to do anything now, and that’s pretty much where I am.

    1. #2.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Dear Andrea… I am so, so deeply sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine what you are going through and will continue to experience. Please know I’m sending you love and your entire family.

    2. #2.3

      Dear Andrea, I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you and all who love your boy. I’m glad that your scrapbook was a treasure to share. As far as PL, for sure you don’t have to do anything right now. You can (a) close the volume for good, (b) add a 12 x 12 page with a favorite picture and no words, (c) keep taking pictures and go back to it . . . whatever feels right for you.

      1. #2.3.1

        Thank you for those suggestions–I really appreciate them. It shows how my mind is (is not) functioning these days that I never thought of your options a. and b. However, I think option b. is lovely–I’ll just include Stephen’s picture–and then I’ll do option a. and just end the book. xoxo

    3. #2.6


      I am so sorry for your loss. I don’t ever leave messages but I had to wish my sincerest sympathies. We lost our little boy almost 10 years ago. It took me a long, long time to scrapbook again. Over time, I have found simple ways to include him, whether an actual picture or a small symbol in the corner of a current picture or journal — something the average person never would notice but I KNOW. I still often include him in many of pages. He was, is and always will be a part of our family, as I am sure your beautiful son, Stephen, will always be a part of yours. Hugs and peace to you and your family.

  3. #3

    I added a rather sad story in my DD last year. Typed it up, put it in a red envelope and added it to my album. It’s told and it’s still private.

  4. #4

    I have a teenager and some days are definitely sucky. More sucky than I’d like, and sucky to the point of me wondering why I bother doing PL. but then we have the good days and I try to record them all so there’s some balance, but we keep some journalling well hidden away for privacy….

  5. #5

    Thank you for this. I had a very different, optimistic plan for DD and then this past weekend, literally all hell broke lose and I spent the bulk of the past few days trying to cope with the fallout. Reading your post made me feel better and gave me some ideas of how to deal with what happened

    1. #5.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Life has a funny way of doing whatever the hell it wants. 🙂 Here’s to better days and if not, figuring out how to respond to them as they come. 🙂

  6. #6

    I never do DD because this is actually my least favorite time of year. I’m an atheist, so there is no religious or holiday significance for me, I don’t like winter (I moved to the wrong state), and I lost my mother at this time of year. I can relate to just feeling “blah” or having a hard time, whether it is just one day or the whole season!

    1. #6.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I can relate to this not being a favorite time of year. For me, it was like that for a number of years for many reasons. Don’t tell me you live in Minnesota? lol. Because you KNOW how much winter can suck here. 🙂

  7. #7

    Thank you Cathy! I needed to hear this. Although my “MESS” was not anything family related it still gave me extreme anxiety and worried me so that I found it difficult to sleep and was so stressed about this problem. I have realized it will work it self out, it was not done intentionally, and I need to address it and be grateful for all the good in my life.

  8. #8
    Abby P

    When a family shit-storm hit yesterday, I thought, “Well, okay. What is my story for this @#$%^’d-up day?” Then I remembered that Ali Edwards still plugged through her DD at a time when she was going through an un-wanted divorce, which had to be awful and definitely not merry. If SHE can do it with grace, then I can do it with grace. That said, you put a happy spin on it, knowing that I’m not alone and that everyone can survive and “document” a jacked-up day in December. Thank you AGAIN, for all the times you are there for us. Sending hugs and happy thoughts to everyone above who is going thru something much less than pleasant this holiday season.

  9. #9

    I think all of us can relate. Three years ago we were going through some very tough days with our then 16 year old son. The last thing I wanted to do was document anything, but I did keep notes in my planner and I’m glad I did. I can look back now and see all we went through and be incredibly grateful that he (and we!) made it through that dark time. It taught me the meaning of “respond” and not “react” and that no matter what, there are always things to be grateful and thankful for. Our now 19 year old is in college, kind and a pleasure to be around. And that is something I appreciate even more when I look back and read some of the things that were happening three years ago.

  10. #10

    I can so relate, Cathy. Not necessarily to this weekend, but to having a crappy day (or set of crappy days in the midst of documenting December). In 2011, my husband and I were on the cusp of divorce (months of therapy in 2012 saved us). And one of my December Daily entries featured a photo someone took of my family at an event, I muscled through due to “obligations.” My husband and I had been fighting all morning. My eyes were swollen from crying for hours. The journaling only hints that things were less-than stellar. But the photo truly tells the story. Years away from the event, I’m glad I documented it. But it sucked big time.

    Other December crappiness I have let into my DD albums: a tow truck hauling away my broken down car, sitting in ER with my mom, and my mom’s eye surgery. For me, DD is a way I work through and cope with the darkness that creeps up for me in December. It helps me see those thin slices of joy, even when the rest of the pie looks like sh$t.

    1. #10.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Yes to all of this. Thanks for sharing, Yolanda. I mean, this is real life, right? 🙂 Good for you.

  11. #11
    Kathleen Moisan

    Thank you Cathy. I so wanted to do a DD project this year. It would be a first for me. But the month started with a week long visit to a friend that is struggling after losing her husband recently. My baby is in her last year of high school so there aren’t a lot of cute Santa pictures. She is busy with her teen life, as it should be, and the camera is often an intrusion. Not sure I can really manage it…..I have found that the older I get, the more happiness is a choice. It was easier when I was younger and my parents were alive and my house was filled with the Magic of Christmas via a little girl. Your 30 Days of Thankful helped set the tone for my December. There is so much to be thankful for in the little things. The nightly dinner together at the table. Talk about college, piano recital dresses and even remodeling the bathroom. It is all in how we choose to approach it. And of course, there will be those sucky days.

  12. #12
    Miss Barky

    Thanks for sharing that. I kind of felt like I was the only one feeling “messy.” And I definitely don’t want a “do over” of yesterday, or even today for that matter. Here’s hoping we all have “less mess” tomorrow!

  13. #13

    This has struck such a chord with me as my Mum passed away on Monday evening. I had already started my DD and had prepped the album in readiness.

    I thought long and hard whether I should carry on as everything is so raw and this wasn’t how I’d planned it. I decided that I am carrying on and I’m doing so for the sake of my daughters. I know the next few weeks will be a blur, I will not remember all the special times, there will still be magic and joy amidst our sadness, but that’s ok.

    So for each day since Monday, I have put photos in of the Christmassy stuff, Christmas lights, our festive toilet tissue, the tree (all the things I had planned), but on the reverse of my journaling cards I have documented how I am feeling, the story of that day in terms of the arrangements I’m making with my dad, along with photos of the flowers I have received. For me, it’s the right thing to do as it’s proving to be a distraction and giving me time to reflect each day.

    Life is hard and things don’t always go to plan but I hope that my story and creating memories will offer me some comfort over the coming months.

  14. #15

    Thank you so much for this posting. I’m doing DD for the first time and thought that I’d have great, joyful stories for each day but have found that not to be the case. Looking at AE’s pages, which seem so perfect, just makes it harder. So I appreciate your honesty and perspective. Oh and I’m loving your iPhone “Merry” image. Makes me smile.

  15. #16
    Judy in Huntsville Al

    Love this. I think it’s so important to include the every stuff in our scrapbooking because life happens…. it shows none of us are prefect, and hopefully allows our families a little grace to regroup and move on…

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