As a result of Covid-19, in 2020, I stopped using my large disc planner (for personal use) and started using one of my many travelers notebooks for daily planning. That led me to also start creative art journaling and memory keeping. On this spread, I wanted to do my part in raising awareness of the importance of registering to become an organ, eye and tissue donor. According to the Donate Life website, 7,000 deaths occur every year in the United States because organs are just not donated in time. I dedicated this memory keeping spread to my brother and to those selfless individuals who have already saved lives through the gift of donation.
This Donate Life movement has an especially personal meaning for me because my older brother needed a double lung transplant as a result of cystic fibrosis. Sadly, he was one of those 7,000 because he was not able to hold on until lungs became available and he lost his battle in 1998.
Back then, the concept of donating your organs and tissue wasn’t as widely known or talked about. The good news is today, there is so much more awareness of the need for organ, eye and tissue donors. There have been 750,000 transplants performed since 1988 and that number will only continue to grow as more donors register. Think of how many lives have been saved or improved as a direct result of this beautiful gift of life!
It’s been nearly 22 years since my brother passed and I admit at times I just sit and wonder what life would be like if he were still alive. About a year or so before his passing I started fundraising to cover the cost of his transplant and after-care. I remember quite vividly looking at the packet of information that I was sent (about fundraising) and being 100% lost. It all was gibberish to me. But, I knew I had to figure it out and figure it out quick.
During those years I spent all my non-working time learning as much as I could about transplant and fundraising. I also learned a lot about just how many people struggled with the costs of this disease and its’ care. After my brother passed, I couldn’t stop learning and my desire to help others’ grew stronger. I wanted to do more….and I did. I founded the Lungs for Life Foundation in 2000 and my non-profit was dedicated to financially helping those affect by cystic fibrosis and transplant.
Then, in 2004, I started my handmade jewelry business, Crystal Allure Creations. The inspiration for my jewelry business came out of my desire to have an awareness bracelet for cystic fibrosis and transplant. I searched the web and found nothing. But, I found lots of awareness bracelets for other diseases. So just like before, I solved that problem by creating my own designs which quickly became popular within these two communities and around the world. It was just another creative way for me to help raise the necessary funds to continue the work, in memory of my brother, for Lungs for Life.
Over the years, insurance companies started covering more costs associated with cystic fibrosis and related transplant costs. As well, other larger non-profits started to take notice of this need in the affected communities and also started providing more assistance. It really didn’t matter to me who provided what and how much -as long as these individuals and families were provided the necessary assistance and wouldn’t have to struggle like my brother and family did.
Fast forward, I still support raising awareness of many causes. These days, I do that through conversation, social media and my creative journaling, memory keeping and, planner page spreads. This booklet is housed in my creative journal travelers notebook and this memory keeping spread was inspired by the “Garden of Life” theme from the National Donate Life month banner for 2021. I absolutely love the concept of the garden, the insects and that they serve as symbols of hope, courage and transformed life.
Techniques and supplies used:
- Rubberstamps in various leaves and leaf patterns
- Ladybug rubberstamp
- 3 different shades of green stamp ink pads
- Mildliner highlighters in blue and green
- Shimmery enamel dots
- Shimmery pen (for the dragon fly wings)
- Butterfly rub-ons
- General black gel pen for writing
To finish my journal page, I plan to use a gray gel ink pen to write a journal entry in all the white space between the two pages within the leaf border. In the last few years, since I started memory keeping in a travelers notebook I have created many pages dedicated to remembering my brother and his life. When the time comes and I am too old to remember, these pages will help to keep his memory alive to my daughter and family who did not know or meet him. These precious memory keeping journal pages will also allow the reader to know my brother through my eyes.
That’s what I love about memory keeping. I wish my mother had done memory keeping, she was so creative. She’s gone now and there was so much of her story and her life that I will never know. If you have the opportunity, I would strongly encourage you to get into memory keeping. It doesn’t have to be a big scrapbook or very involved. Even something as simple as a hard cover journal that you write in will preserve your life and memories forever.
If you are on the transplant list or have already received your gift of life, memory keeping is a great way to record your journey. You can enter your daily thoughts, good days, bad days, special people you meet, even your experience leading up to and after transplant. There is no limit to memory keeping -it’s your journal, it’s all about your perspective and preserving your memories. Also on the plus side….it’s great low cost therapy! Need a little starting point? Check out my post on Creative Planning -Creating the Perfect Paper Planner with Meaning and Purpose.
Did you know that 95% of Americans are in favor of being a donor but only 58% are registered. I ask that you take some time today or hop over to the Donate Life website and either register and/or help spread the word. Just as equally important is having this conversation with your loved ones so they know what your wishes are. The month of April isn’t the only time to raise awareness for Donate Life. You can talk about registering to become a donor and donating the gift of life any day or time of the year.
National Observances & Celebrations for Donate Life Month:
- April – Donate Life Month
- April 16th – Donated Life Blue & Green Day
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