"We all know how an idea 'strikes,' 'seizes,' 'catches hold of,' 'impresses' us and at last, if it be big enough, 'possesses' us; in a word, behaves like an entity." Charlotte Mason
It started with my daily reading of a dearly loved collection of editorials by naturalist and New York times writer, Hal Borland, Twelve Moons of the Year. In a piece called, "Whimsical February" he wrote,
"February probably will be capricious--it usually is; but there is excuse for that. February is the last full month of winter, (huzzah! -ed.) by the almanac at least, and the traditional battleground of warring weather systems. It begins with the absurdity of Groundhog Day, celebrates romance in mid-month, and includes an extra day every four years. February is the only month that still approximates the lunar month--one of man's earliest units of time--yet on occasion it passes without a full moon."
It got me thinking. Here in the Northeast, when a foot or foot and a half of snow can descend before the clock sees 12 twice, whimsical is not really the word. Maniacal maybe. It was in that "what good is February anyway?" mood that 20 or more robins swept magically into MY trees during a snowstorm to make a party out of the leftover crabapples and bittersweet. How could my outlook not improve? They were clearly making the best of February. I got out my Book of Firsts and made a note. I noticed there had been just such a flock this week in 2014 and another the week before in 2010. "Somehow way leads onto way, " and while surfing through "February" to try to track down what my "cheerily, cheerily" friends might be getting up to, keeping their calendar in this way, I happened upon a lovely post about 100 Days of School from one of the snowiest parts of my home country and mildly intrigued and certainly sympathetic read a little further to find that the 100th day of school is usually somewhere in the middle of February. AH... synchronicity, serendipity...call it what you will, the rest followed hard on the heals of this idea. I found out that not only is counting 100 days of school a thing, so is a 100 Days of Napoleonic campaign, and 100 Days of Real Food and 100 Days of a certain unmentionable president...and then, I wandered into "The Great Discontent" (which sounded wonderfully like Charlotte Mason's "divine discontent" and Elle Luna's "100 Days Project" and was besotted. That's the long version.
The short version is:
1. This is a riff on the 100 Days of Making promoted by Elle Luna. (I stole it. I think, ehem, making off with her idea is part of the plan, if not, I hope she will forgive me.) Thus, I propose that the middle of February remind CM aficionados everywhere to prepare to celebrate "the science of relations" with "100 Days of Keeping" (notebooks that is).
2. Like the original makers, we will also be more about process and than about our beautiful products but to a purpose-- becoming better noticers as we focus on using one of the notebooks Charlotte Mason recommended for 100 days.
3. One hundred is a nice round number but there is a method to this madness. Historically the Church observes the season of Lent for 40 days (which is really 46 if you don't count the Sundays which are not included because they represent "little Easters.") After the the reflective time of Lent comes Eastertide which is 50 Days of celebrating that we live, as Mason says, "in a Redeemed World." If you are good at math, you'll see that leaves four days, (46 + 50 = 96) for settling into the next liturgical season, beginning with the high holiday of the coming of the Holy Spirit and all growth, Pentecost. Since Mason claims the Holy Spirit is the supreme educator of persons, and teaches us this slow and reflective way of noticing through the keeping of notebooks, it seemed natural to begin this experiment on the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday, (March 1 this year) moving through our reflective practice to a renewed sense of wonder and admiration and growth in new directions in the first few days of Pentecost to June 8, 2017.
4. The rules are very simple. (I've restated the original project's parameters below). The rewards, I suspect will be very great. I am excited about your comments and hope we can share what we are discovering as we go. Part of the value of our practice is strengthening our understanding of how countercultural and life-changing Charlotte Mason's ideas are. Let's make the Mason community known (do it quietly now and more exposure next year?) for this middle of February whimsy as a way to invite others into her "unwalled university." In one fell swoop we can lead a delightful campaign in her direction, celebrate our very full and satisfying days in each Mason classroom, and count more (or less?) than our political or scholastic woes.
As A.A. Milne sagely notes,
“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it."
I hope my February whimsy is not that kindof thing. I hope it is a very kind thing we can do for ourselves and each other. What do you say, can the world use more noticers?
How to Play
(with gratitude to the originators of the 100DayProject for these guidelines)
Share this link and image (next year we'll have one) and invite your friends. Stop by often to record your observations about the process of keeping.
Follow prov.en.der on Facebook and make an album entitled 100 Days of Keeping/your project's name
Choose your notebook, you will use just that one every day for 100 days starting on Wednesday March 1, and ending on Wednesday, June 8, 2017. Note: If you're just now finding us, you can still participate. You can choose to join in and catch up if possible or start at Day 1 and finish at your own pace.
Create an Facebook account if you don’t already have one (this is where you’ll share your photos).
Select a unique name for your project album so all your instances of 100 can be viewed in one place. Include the name as a hashtag if you share on Instagram (only next year) each of your posts (i.e. #100DaysofKeeping, Laurie's smalls ).
Announce your project on Facebook. Download the project's image (next year) and post it on Facebook, along with your project’s unique name and 100DaysofKeeping, to announce your project before March 1
On March 1, begin! Share each instance of 100 notebook entries on Facebook so everyone can follow along. You can also add narrations about the process of keeping. (Note: If you find this after the 3/1 start date, you can still join in and catch up or finish later.)
How shall I choose which notebook to keep?
What are you passionate about? Is there something you used to do that you gave up, something you’d like to explore, something that intrigues you? If you want to know more about History, perhaps a Book of Centuries. If you are wanting to track serendipity in your life, a Commonplace. Maybe you are wishing for the poetic and gathering little tags of poetry in a poetry notebook seems appealing. Perhaps the Book of Firsts will help you attend to spring in your neck of the woods. Look over the Keeping a Book of Centuries website for ideas or read about all the notebooks Charlotte Mason used in The Living Page. (You will give up other notebooks you may keep for the 100 days to concentrate on the gifts on just this one.)
Pick an actual notebook. It doesn't have to be something special. It needs room for 100 entries and sturdy paper for whatever you think your medium will be. Even a book of centuries can be made in a lined notebook. It is good advice from the original 100 Day Project to think about using what you may already have. The point is the noticing and the habit rather than the fine art supplies or outcome. If you already love to make your own notebook out of paper bags or paint chips, by all means make your own, but it is not necessary to joining the project to be fancy. Any empty page will do.
Consider your location. Will you be home, traveling, or a combination of both? Pick something that’s feasible for you to complete. (good point)
Choose your action. What’s your verb? Here are a few to get you thinking: