Thursday, July 23, 2009

Notebook Journals

Above, the "concertina" journal I created last year. Ignore the 2004 date. My camera reset and I just haven't cropped these photos for some reason. Busy maybe? This journal was the most complicated because it's stitched using an awl and fiber with a BIG needle. It has pockets which are handy, and I glued a calendar to the front. Then I used some of scrapbook "stash" to doll it up.

In Memories in Order, I talk about using a notebook or journal to keep up with what you will be learning as well as to capture those thoughts, ideas, and memories that just flash into your brain and just as quickly disappear.

I carry a small notebook in my bag when I'm out and about. It's a "Moleskine," sold usually at stationery and book stores. Mine's black and has a black ribbon bookmark and an elastic holder to keep it closed.

I also have a decorated journal I keep on my bedside table, similar to the Moleskine, but red bookcloth, and larger, 5 x 7 inches. I used my scrapbooking products to express myself in making the red cover beautiful and creative.

Before that, I had one of those composition books you can buy when school sales are going on, like right now, sometimes for as low as 10 cents a piece. I also decorated the cover of that one too.

One of my scrapbook "sisters" gave me this comp book, and I used some of the other embellishments to decorate it. Even made a pocket for my scissors. You can see the little "B" charm hanging from the scissors. No more wondering whose they are now.

I've heard a few people say they have a hard time writing in a beautiful journal because they don't want to ruin it, or they think it calls for beautiful writing. Maybe if I paid an exhorbitant amount for the book, it would stifle my creativity, but none of mine are expensive, so I get more creativity and inspiration for my writing by looking at their beauty. On the cover of my current red journal I have a transparent stick-on, "Live, Laugh, Love," so at the close of the day, when I pick it up, that's what I see, and it inspires me.

Two of my customers a few years ago made scrapbooks from such journals with unlined pages, where they adhered photos, decorative paper and other embellishments, and their own handwriting. They had even adhered some 3-D items like silk flowers, momentos, "chunky" scrapbooks known in the industry. Oh, the covers didn't lie flat. They were prettty chunky. But they were inspirational.

That inspired me, and I began putting some things like pictures from magazines on my pages and stickers from my collection, maybe a photo or two if I didn't need it for my family scrapbook. It's quite fun. You can draw or sketch in these too if you have unlined pages. I saw a Moleskine last summer that a man had created while he toured Rome. He must have been an artist becauss his pen and ink drawings were beautiful. I can't draw, but I can kind of sketch.

At any rate, I call these "Notebook Journals," because they're double-duty. You can just journal about your day, take notes, especially when you're out shopping. You can make a grocery list or menu on the go, or if you're caught waiting somewhere. When I'm browsing bookstores, which is where you'll find me if there's one close to me, I'll write down titles I want and then see if the library has them before I buy.

Since I don't like to carry a big planner anymore, I've glued a small calendar to the inside cover of some of my Notebook Journals. Now I keep my datebook on my cell phone, but it's still nice to see it on paper while you're using your Notebook Journal.

For a while I had a 5 x 7 inch, 3-ring binder which held my whole life behind dividers: Menus, to-do lists, goals, book list, monthly and weekly calendars, address book, client list, notes. It was too much. But I still keep it on my desk and now have a section for websites with logins and passwords. There's just no need to carry it around, but I do take it if I'm traveling.

I also like to make travel journals. To the left is one I created using a comp book. Inside I have pockets I made from cardstock for maps, tickets, receipts, etc. I wrote directions for places we wanted to visit and journaled along the way. A good keepsake.

My "button" journal.

On the right is the "star" album I created totally from scrapbook paper and ribbon.

Please check back for more creative ways to hold your memories, and if you sign up for my newsletter here, you'll receive a special on Memories in Order when it's finished that will only go to those on the newsletter.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It's Not a Legacy if...

It's Not a Legacy if it doesn't tell a story.

After you've gotten "The Point" (see my previous post, and you know what you want to do to preserve your memories, we need to talk about the most important element of all: How to make it a legacy. Maybe it will be a traditional scrapbook, perhaps a digital album, or a printed and bound book. You might only want to organize your photos where they'll be safely preserved for a lifetime. It's possible you want to create a journal and include a few select pictures and some decorative elements.

Whatever your choice, without the stories, what will become of your creation? After you're gone, will anyone know anything about your life? Sure, there are stories we tell to our children and grandchildren, but will they always be remembered?

Do you consider some of your stories significant enough to pass on? At one time, I didn't think mine were. I've changed my mind. The choices I made, the triumphs, the failures, especially the insights I gained, all became important to pass down through the family. My parents, grandparents, my ancestors, they all have stories that I want to leave as my legacy.

I want my great grandchildren and their children to know that my grandmother went to work at age 15 in a "box factory," according to the census that year. Life hasn't always been what we know today, or will be in the future. I want them to know what kind of man my father was, all he endured to raise six children in a single-income home on $75 a week.

And how I got in trouble in Catholic high school for defying the Pope's ruling on who gets saved if the doctor must make a choice between the baby or the mother, when at the time my mother was having a hard pregnancy with my youngest brother, her sixth child. That story will tell them something about my beliefs, my rebelliousness.

How I felt at John F. Kennedy's assassination. And his brother, Bobby's. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s murder. What went through my mind on 9/11 when I saw the attack on our own soil.

You don't have to be a writer to record these events for posterity. One way is to write letters in your book to those you want to touch.

I was working at my desk today when someone down the hall yelled that the Trade Center had been hit by an airplane. I ran down to the TV and watched when they showed it again. Then another plane hit the other tower and they said terrorists were flying the planes. Where would they strike next? Were we at war now? I was so scared. All I could think was I wanted to be with my family.

If you notice in the above, the words are all simple, no fancy adjectives or hard grammar. It's just the truth of how you felt at a particular moment in time that someone will consider precious someday. Way more important than just a bunch of pictures and a few words about the event or a picture cut from a magazine or the newspaper, though I use those to add to historical events as well. It's how I felt inside, though, that tells the story along with the historic account.

Not all letter-type writing will be about historic events. Let's say you are creating an album for your son as a high school graduation gift. Instead of just adhering the photos and maybe even adding a word or two of description under them like, "Your First Day of Kindergarten," try this:

I'll never forget your first day of kindergarten. You were so excited to go that you got up all by yourself and ate all of your breakfast as fast as you could, grabbed your new backpack and waited at the door for me. When we got to your room, you looked inside and then turned around and grabbed my leg and said I changed my mind.

In this example, I didn't even put quotation marks around what your little boy might have said. That's okay. You might not know or remember all those nuances of grammar you learned in English class. But I guarantee you that your son will treasure this story the rest of his life because you wrote it. He will share it with his kids someday. It's important that you remembered his first day of kindergarten.

If you are writing memoir, you would probably write differently than letter-style, and it might look like this:

John's first day of kindergarten was cute. He got up all by himself and ate his breakfast in a hurry, got his backpack, and waited for me at the door. When we got to his room, he changed his mind when he saw the strange classroom and all the other kids. He held onto my leg and cried. And then I cried too.

There's a lot more about memoir writing, which is in my book. Looking at the above example, it would seem that you are writing your entire life story, and John's first day of kindergarten appears where it belongs in the chronology of your life. Some people scrapbook that way, chronologically. I'm one of those. But that's not necessarily so with memoir writing. In fact, usually memoirs are written about a specific period in one's life, also called a "slice of life."

It could be you're writing about a time in your life raising your kids, maybe even as a single mom. Or maybe your early life living on a farm and what it was like to go off to college and live in the city. Maybe you're even thinking of doing an album or book of all of your children's school years.

Just remember the importance of your stories here. Why not make this a true legacy. Some people leave a fortune in money, some a grand estate, maybe a huge collection of antique jewelry. If you don't have any of that, or even if you do, leave the one that will be treasured most.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What's the Point?

Whenever taking on a project, especially a big one, there has to be an end in mind. You know, what's the finished project supposed to look like. In other words, what's the point?

Since 1999, teaching people how to tell their stories in scrapbooks and family albums, highlighting their photos to best advantage, and how to be certain these memories stand the test of time, I noticed many who gave up before they even got started in earnest because of the overwhelming size of the job. Other obstacles, of course, were lack of money to buy all that elaborate stuff in the stores, not enough time, "my handwriting is awful," and "I'm not creative."

My forthcoming book, Memories in Order, addresses all of these barriers, but perhaps the most significant chapter is "The Point," early on, because if you can't answer this question, you won't be sure of what you're doing, and the project won't take on the significance it should. Die-hard scrapbookers and album makers know the point, or what the project looks like at the end. Maybe not exactly what the physical book will look like because they change methods and pick up new strategies as they go, but as far as what they want to achieve by doing the work, they are certain.

It's like writing. If I don't know what I want people to learn, or I'm not sure of what my real message is underneath all the words, I will give up. I've given up on projects a lot and can see them sitting on my shelves or stored away in drawers because I wasn't sure of "the point."

For me, when it comes to my albums, first off, it doesn't seem like work at all because I enjoy doing it so much. I know the memories are being kept alive in my books for the children and grandchildren for a lifetime and beyond. I have a true passion for this, passing down heritage. And I'm intent on passing down my lessons learned throughout my life, the good and the bad.

It's not like that for everyone who makes albums or scrapbooks. Some people just want to create an album for their graduating senior as a gift of all their school memories. They have a point. Some people want to create travel albums for the family, maybe holiday albums, or albums of all of their child's birthdays. And some people want to write a memoir, maybe incorporating some old photos. Like me, a lot of people just want their family pictures stored safely somewhere where they can be pulled out and celebrated over and over again.

So what is your point?

I plan for Memories in Order to be the first of my Scrapbook Simply series. Not to confuse the name with Simple Scrapbooks, which is a great magazine I love to read and copy layouts from. By Scrapbook Simply I don't want to infer creating simple scrapbooks, but rather simply sitting down to create that book of memories you've been putting off because of all of the reasons listed above, or some other reason you have. I point out in the book there is nothing stopping you from getting started. Just Scrapbook Simply already.

My website is undergoing a new face, and will be up and running in a few days, and you'll be able to see more about the book, which is in the first edit stage at present. It's an exciting task for me that I've been working on for a long time.

In the meantime, I have an essay in an anthology titled Gifts II that will be out this winter I believe. The book is about Down syndrome individuals, and I've written a piece about my son Jeff, "Road Pavers." I'm so proud of this work because it tells my son's story of courage, hard work, complete tolerance and love of every person--and every animal--he encounters. My SimplySpecial website will be up again in a few days after some changes as well. The subtitle: "Aren't we all special?"

Women's Memoirs

Women's Memoirs
Women's Memoirs