I have always had a strange affinity for maps – as I child I stared at them in wide-eyed wonder. I desperately wanted to go somewhere. Anywhere. My family didn't have a lot of money, so foreign travel seemed out of the picture. Instead, I traveled with my imagination. We had three acres of land -- the forest became my playground. I traveled to fictitious countries with made up friends that I created out of brown paper bags, sat in trees for hours reading books about far-away places, and cut out the pages of seed catalogs to paste onto paper gardens. 

Even though we didn't have much money, I never lacked for things to do. Boredom was never an option. I simply created my own fun. 

By the time I got to college I began to travel by more conventional methods: planes, trains and later ships. For years afterwards, I traversed the globe searching for stories and photos – and I found them in abundance. My creativity overflowed into articles, photos, exhibitions and multimedia projects. I have stacks of journals and scrapbooks to prove it. 

Now that I’m back in America, I don't rack up air miles quite as fast as I used to. But the stacks of journals and scrapbooks are still piling up, as are many other projects. My day is usually not complete unless I am creating something – whether it’s a card for someone, a photograph, a story, crocheted toys and knitted sweaters, or something as simple as a meal from scratch. I also love to reuse stuff to make 'new' stuff -- so it's only natural that I enjoy thrift shopping more than regular shopping. 

Good coffee (or lack thereof) can make or break my day. I am also slightly obsessed with handbags, luggage and the brawny Sailor I met onboard ‘the Love Boat’. (You can read more of that story here.)

While I don't claim to always follow the rules, these mottos have all made their way into my life over the years:
  • Pass up no adventures (I once passed up a trip to Timbuktu, regretfully)
  • Have no regrets (unless you passed up a trip to Timbuktu) 
  • Read. A lot. I cringe slightly whenever people say 'I haven't read a whole book since high school...' Seriously? 
  • Try at least one new recipe a week. It may be a flop (that's why pizza delivery is still on speed dial) but like the Sailor says, 'That's how you learn...'
  • Do one thing that scares you everyday. I'm not talking about parachuting from a plane, but hey, if that's your thing, then go for it! I'm talking about doing the small things that push you even slightly out of your comfort zone. For me it's sometimes as simple as making a phone call, or knocking on my neighbor's door to deliver a slice of pie.
  • Recycle and reuse stuff as much as possible. Conventional recycling is great, but sometimes that stuff can all be reused first. Much of my own scrapbook and craft inspiration comes from items that are truly 'scrap'! (In my world, thrifting counts as recycling... bonus if the item is vintage!)
  • Use what it available. I love the challenge of using my 'stash' of yarn before I purchase new stuff. The whole creative process is sometimes more fun when I have to figure out what to do with leftover skeins of non-matching colors, rather than buying exactly what I need. Sometimes the one new recipe a week is born out of what's left in the fridge rather than what's written on the shopping list.  
  • Create something every day. It doesn't have to be an entire project from start to finish -- I consider it 'creating something' even if you just work on a portion of a project daily. 

Life is an amazing journey. I love inspiring people along the way. Thanks for following my story here at Typing Sunflowers.

Brenda Steffen

PS: Want to know what's up with the name? Check out the story here.