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When we think about the word “Explore,” we often think about traveling somewhere exotic, trekking into the wilderness, or hiking a mountaintop. I’m a big fan of all of those things. I love how my perspective shifts and my mind expands when I expose myself to new surroundings and adventures.

But we can also cultivate a spirit of Exploration in small and simple ways in our everyday lives.

Whether or not you have something BIG planned for spring break, I want you to spend some time Exploring this month. Explore just outside the realm of where you are right now. Look for ways to increase the perimeter of what you’re comfortable doing,
just a little bit.

For the last couple of months, I haven’t been in an Exploring mindset. I was in a protective phase, where I knew I needed to take some time to rest and regenerate. I wasn’t making plans or reaching out to friends. If anything, I was reaching inward.

One of the Experiments I did last month was to see if cleaning out some spaces in my home that were bothering me would recharge and rejuvenate me. The Experiment worked! With those tasks no longer hanging over my head, I felt lighter and freer. Now I feel SO ready for fun and light and energy. Because the truth is that Exploring does take energy, even if it always pays off in the end, as I discovered last year.

Last year, I decided I wanted to go on one hike a week. I am literally surrounded by beautiful places to hike, and my goal was to get out there and experience them—whether alone or with kids or with friends. I didn’t quite complete my goal, but that’s not the point. I still managed to capture some of my favorite photos from the whole year. I still managed to get off my phone more, to GO and DO something that cleared my head and energized my body. I still connected more with people I love. I still got out of my comfort zone—out of the rut of my overly scheduled life—and enjoyed some new and beautiful experiences. But it took some effort, what experts call “activation energy.”

I’m a big believer that great things never come from comfort zones. You can have growth or you can have comfort, but you can’t have both. Think about the areas of your life where you could stand a little bit of growth. How can you harness that activation energy and push yourself to take one small step into new territory—in your creative pursuits, in your work, in your hobbies, in your parenting, in your friendships, maybe even in how you have FUN?

Let’s talk about fun for a moment.

My intention this month is to Explore my fun side again. To do things that will fill my bucket but that don’t involve responsibility. As a person who is very motivated by my work—and who finds so much play within the work I do—I sometimes have to be intentional about Exploring the idea of fun and play just for their own sake. That’s why I’m going to spend this month looking for opportunities to:

  • • Say YES to things that just look FUN
  • • Follow my curiosity and my sense of whimsy
  • • Act on impulses to make spontaneous plans with friends
  • • Drive different routes than I normally drive
  • • Walk streets I don’t normally walk
  • • Actually GO inside stores that catch my eye
  • • Go places where there’s no WiFi—hoping to find a better connection

Ruts exist in roads and in life for a reason. They’re easier. We don’t have to think much; we can just submit to our habits and follow well-worn paths. But there’s also value in getting outside those ruts, taking an unexpected turn, and seeing our lives from a slightly different perspective. Because that’s where excitement and wonder live. That’s where memories are made and stories are born. 

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Here’s how I plan to apply my Explore intention to the four pillars of memory keeping for 2018ex:

Experiences— “Explore” is a very active verb that requires doing, acting, following through, having new experiences. As I’m emerging from winter, I’m ready to wake up and act on the things that are pulling me and calling to me. How about you?

Exceptional moments—I love the quote, “Never hope for it more than you work for it,” and I’m going to keep that in mind all month. I’m ready to make some exceptional memories, and that’s more likely to happen if I stop wishing and start doing. I think I’ll preserve my favorite Explorations inside a pink polka-dotted Storybook pink polka-dotted Storybook that I can slip inside my planner

Expressions I’m going to Explore new ways to add color and life to my planning this month. I want the visual look of my planner to match the fun and light and energy I’m seeking. Sounds like a job for my Tropical themed Fresh Start products. (Flamingo and pineapple washi Flamingo and pineapple washi tape? Yes please!)

Expectations The great thing about Exploring is that I don’t have to have any expectations—I can just see where I end up! My goal is always to not be in the same place this time next year, which means I need to make just a few steps into the unknown by the end of the month. One step at a time; that’s something I can do.

How will you explore your world this month? 

Here are five photos to take to decorate your planner or calendar this month.

1.  Go on a leisurely walk through your neighborhood or town and really pay attention. Photograph details you’ve never noticed before.

2.  Drive a different route to work or school, and look around you as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Take photos along the way.

3.  Push yourself out of your creative comfort zone by trying a new product or technique. Photograph the results.

4.  Explore new ways of taking a selfie: in the bathroom mirror, in another reflective surface, with a selfie-stick, using your phone’s timer feature, or even handing the camera to a child.

5.  Explore photography itself. Try different angles, different apps, or different techniques. Be methodical and intentional about composing your photos. Maybe even try using a real camera instead of your phone for a change.

“An artist is an explorer.”
―Henri Matisse“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
—Neale Donald Walsch

“Until you cross the bridge of your insecurities, you can’t begin to explore your possibilities.”
—Tim Fargo

“You must go on adventures to find where you truly belong.”
—Sue Fitzmaurice

“Do more things that make you forget to check your phone.”

Note: Look for pretty versions of these quotes on my Instagram feed (@heidiswapp) throughout the month!

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My finished projects and planning pages for April will be posted right here, so please check back at the beginning of May.