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Keep your eyes on your own paper

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

SEP 19, 2014 | Roots to Roofs

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There's this little thing I like to do called scrapbooking. You may have heard of it? It's a multi-billion dollar industry in this country and if you've ever kept something you value and put pasted it onto paper to preserve it you've done it.

But The Industry makes it seem a little more complicated than that. And, while I'm glad there is an industry which supports my passion for preserving memories, people were doing it long before QVC picked on the goldmine, I think we've gotten a little sidetracked by the glitter and embossing powder.

Because sure, it would be lovely to have an entire room at home dedicated to scrapbooking supplies, all you really need is a pen, pictures, paper and some paste. But even a stapler would do. But that's not safe for archiving, they will tell you.

Maybe not. But if my mama left me a bunch of pictures and stories in her own handwriting I wouldn't be worried about the rust stains, I'd just be stoked to have a piece of her heart in my hand. And I certainly wouldn't question her lack of embellishments.

As a writer I obviously believe in the power and importance of telling, and sharing, our stories, but it's not just the big, breaking news stories I want to see covered in scrapbooks. No, I would love for more people to just take note of right now.

We need to celebrate our everyday, ordinary lives. Especially, I think, in this digital age were less and less is being preserved in a meaningful, permanent way.

I accomplish this by taking a picture a day, most of the days, of something that matters right now and I do a little journaling about it and combine all of it in a pocket-page system called Project Life designed by Becky Higgins to simplify scrapbooking.

And for the record, there are more sticky notes than pictures in the pockets at the moment. This year, I'm about 33 weeks behind but have no doubt I'll catch up. Tomorrow, or another year. I've got the pictures and the notes and figure worst case scenario I can staple all of that together and hand it over to my boys when they're grown: there.

There's what mattered to you when you were two, and ten and thirteen. And also in there is what mattered to me, to your brother and your dad. You'll also find in there some of what happened in the world. Big stuff that mattered to everyone, and little stuff that mattered to just us. There will be books we read, meals we savored, things we did, places we went and the people we loved.

Project Life may not be for you. Plenty of people just aren’t into it. But, if this project calls to you, if you are excited at the thought of participating, you can totally do it your own way.

I loved scrapbooking when I did it my own way, back when I was unaware that there was an “industry” based on it. I naturally kept it simple by pasting pictures, stories and scraps of life (ticket stubs, cards, and such) onto paper.

I didn’t know, or care, if I had a style. Or how my style, or lack of it, measured up to others. Because I didn’t care. I was having fun with it.

And then, I learned about and became enthralled by the Scrapbooking Industry. I loved all of it. Until I realized that instead of scrapbooking anymore, I had become a hoarder of supplies and my pictures stayed in boxes and on multiple unorganized files on my computer labeled “new folder.” Why? I think I felt like I wasn’t “doing it right.”

I didn’t know it at the time as it was a gradual shift from actively engaging in my passion to sitting on the sidelines, watching longingly as others played Varsity.

The pages and projects I was looking to for inspiration seemed so complicated. So embellished. So not me. If that was scrapbooking, then I wasn’t a real scrapbooker.

Then I discovered and fell in virtual love with the work, mission and passion of creative people like Stacy Julian, Ali Edwards, Becky Higgins and Cathy Zielske's whose motto is literally "taking the crap out of scrapbooking." 

For me, they lead me back home to what matters to me: the stories, the passion for sharing them, the joy in creating and the purpose in preserving the moments that make up our lifetime.

These women were like the coaches who insist everyone takes a turn at bat because everyone has something to offer, their own way in their own time.

So if you have a desire to record your life in pictures and stories, grab some paste and get started.

And, remember, as it was in grade school so it is in all things: Keep your eyes on your own paper!

Coming up: The Hardy Boys go to church | The scraps of life – Project Life memorabilia | Raising the Hardy Boys, with fart guns | The time times I lost my journal at the airport, and at the gym, and at my boyfriend’s house.

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