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Documenting My Life Story

September 29, 2020

It may sound funny (considering I’m a digital scrapbooking product designer), but scrapbooking about my own life never occurred to me. Oh sure, I’ve got pages about my granddaughter — that’s a given. But if you know me at all, you know I’m an art journaling kinda gal — I’ve got plenty of those kinds of pages. But art journaling is about expressing yourself creatively, not about recording facts about the life you have lived, where you came from or where you’ve been.

The Back Story

It wasn’t until I was asked to teach a class about scrapbooking about oneself that I gave the topic any real consideration. I’ve always said that I was never a “paper scrapper” and while that’s probably technically true because I never bought physical scrapbook paper or embellishments, it turns out I did keep “stuff”. And judging by the number of boxes that the Husband brought down from the rafters, I kept lots and LOTs of “stuff”. Mostly that stuff is in old-school photo albums — the kind they called “magnetic” with the filmy acetate that sticks to the page. Or that stuff is just loose in the books, sorta where they belong chronologically.

As I considered how to approach the class content, I sifted through some of that stuff and found all sorts of things I’d totally forgotten — like tickets for some of the rock band concerts I attended as a teen in Germany. And a shockingly large pile of stuff that held no meaning for me at all — like photos of unidentified buildings and Ann Landers and Dear Abby newspaper clippings, to name a few.

The more I looked through those first few boxes of stuff, the stronger the urge became to do something with those photos and memorabilia. But at the same time I started to have other feelings: I felt overwhelmed by the thought of where to start and about how much stuff there was to sort through. I felt confused about what stories should be documented. Then I wondered if it was self-centered to spend so much time on myself. Would anyone care? But then I realized that the gift of my story, in my own words, would most certainly be a gift my family would cherish forever.

It occurs to me that we, as women tend to “do” for others before we ever “do” for ourselves. I don’t mean to generalize or over simplify — or even speak for others — but my own observations are that women tend to put the needs of others ahead of their own. That’s particularly evident in the scrapbooking world where galleries are full of pages about children and grand children and major life events, but very few about the person creating those pages.

I asked my newsletter subscribers if they scrapped about themselves, and if not, who not. The answers were all very similar: “I hate the way I look in pictures” and “I’m always behind the camera”. Both of those things are true for me as well. But what is the result of that kind of thinking? The result is that your children and grandchildren and their grandchildren will have lots of scrapbook pages with virtual no sign of their Nana. So, essentially, we’re doing our family and ourselves a disservice by not scrapping — at least a little — about ourselves. No one knows us better than we know ourselves. And if we don’t share our lives with our families, who will?

My Surprising Discovery

I decided that for me (at least for now) it is easier to start at the beginning and allow the photos I have to drive the story. I scanned some of my “stuff” and searched the internet for bit of information or images to fill in some blanks. As I went through this process, I was absolutely shocked to realize what a joyful experience this was for me. So many memories and stories came to my mind as I combed through that stuff. And the real shocker was that as I was placing the stuff on my pages, I didn’t feel the need to grab one of my kits to accent the pages. In fact, I absolutely fell in love with the idea of digi scrapping in a style more similar to what scrapbooking looked like when I was a kid [mumble mumble] years ago. What?? How could that be? Eventually, I did pull out some of my stickers and ribbons, but I kept those to a minimum and in doing so, was able to scrap couple of pages pretty quickly.

No one is more surprised than I am to find that I am totally hooked on scrapping my life story! I find myself wondering how many other scrappers there are out there like me — who never thought about, or who have put off scrapping about themselves. Who feel overwhelmed at the prospect? I find myself wondering if there are scrappers out there who would like to tackle this journey with me. To make the journey easier, I’ve released a set of digital templates, elements and prompts!

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