Friday, May 28, 2010

When Life & Scrapbooking Gets Too Hard

This photo of  the awesome
beauty of God's creation in my own back yard
whispers to me that I am loved.
I'm working on my next guest blog on Women' Memoirs, to go live on June 10th.  It will focus on scrapbooking and writing about illness and the healing that comes through the process of story.  Your story.  My own illness, severe clinical depression lasting for years, has not yet been written.  I will tell that story in my guest blog, along with the journey to daylight and peace.

Today, however, in this "Journey to Faith" blog that you care now readinng, I focus on the times when hurt and tragedy invade your life and you're just too overwhelmed to even think of doing anything positive.  If you're like me, your emotions take over and even everyday tasks and priorities become impossible.  I am going through one of those periods now as a mother of a grown child who has caused my heart to break.

Again.  It's happened before, several years ago, and before that too, when I wanted to give up.

But how does a mom ever give up?  I don't know how.  I continue to grieve, and I continue to try.  Even when I can't make it right.  Once again I am up against a stone wall.

Two years ago, when my heart was broken, I didn't even want to try again to make it better.  The assault was so bitter, so damning, that there were no words to offer, no ways to defend myself against the attack.  I didn't even know what I'd done to deserve it.  My pastor said, "You've done everything you can.  The ball is in her court."

I waited.  But the ball was never served back.

My incredible husband felt like our pastor.  "Let it go.  It's all you can do.  You can't fix her problems."  I knew deep down that she had issues far more greater than I'd realized, but, still, I couldn't handle just waiting.   A mother never stops waiting.

One day I decided to pull some of  the old scrapbooks I'd created off the shelves and revisit the photos of the children when they were young.  When the problems were minor.  I often tell young moms, "The problems are small when your children are small.  When they get bigger, the problems are bigger."  This is so true.  When they are little, they can't hurt you psychologically.  When they are adults, they can carve out your heart and let it lay bleeding on the floor.

Not all children of course, but one every now and then.  And you will never understand why.

If I could go back and raise the children all over again, I would do so many things differently.  Wouldn't we all?  But it is what it is.  And you just try your best in the present.

That day several years ago, gazing at the pictures in my albums, remembering the sweet little faces on the pages.  Some of the happy things we did.  Some of the funny memories I have carried in my heart.  I guess I've chosen to remember more of the good rather than the bad.

In my own family, growing up, I had a vault of anguish that had impeded my emotional growth.  My parents loved us, but it wasn't shown so much.  My father was an alcoholic.  He was not a mean alcoholic, but the constant arguing between my parents left a deep, festering wound inside me. My mother suffered one "nervous breakdown" after another (as the doctors called them at the time), usually after the birth of each of my five younger siblings. As the oldest, I had a heavy burden.  I resented the loss of a normal life like all of my friends.

When I grew up--really grew up, physically and mentally--I realized my parents did the best they could, and our lives weren't nearly as bad as a lot of others I'd seen and heard about.  No matter how awful you think your situation is, or was, there is always someone else who has suffered way more than you.

My scrapbook albums told stories of how hard I'd tried during my child-rearing years.  Not perfect, not even close.  But I had tried.  I stayed in the first marriage longer than I should have, always hoping it would get better, that I could "fix" a dysfunctional man.  I wanted a father for my children.  And I remembered the bitterness I'd felt toward my mother for not leaving my own father.

This is a Happy memory of the very
best thing that every happened to me--My marriage to the
man who loves me unconditionally and never stops
believing in my goodness.  My protector and best friend
My scrapbooks provide a series of slices from my life that have the power to heal my wounds.  I didn't know, when I started this incredible art form, that this would be an outcome.  Never, never.  But I am here to say to you that this is a very good thing to do.

Today, with my broken spirit, I will scrapbook.  I will record the events shown in the recent photos in my storage binder.  I will select uplifting pictures of good things about my life today.  My youngest son's graduation last year, a birthday party for my niece, my two little granddaughters' last visit, our last beach vacation.  Because I know someday these albums will be important, maybe to me and maybe to someone else in my family during a difficult time who "needs" the photos and the words I write.

I suffer from clinical depression, like my mother.  But, unlike my mother, I have a positive force in my life to help counter the dark days.  It is called scrapbooking.  I am hoping someone else reading this will identify with my story and I have managed to help you.  And I'm available to help.  Leave a
comment or send an email.

My healing "art."  I can't believe how much this
has added to my life.  This was taken at one of
my girls' scrapbook retreats.  An event I can look forward
to every six months.  A VERY healing time away
with friends.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Simple Scrapbook Strategies

Library of Memories Class is finished, and Thursdays aren't as exciting now.  Every Thursday morning, first thing I did was pull up my class on Big Picture Scrapbooking and see what Stacy had cooked up for us that week.  What a great experience.  Everything I heard about the class was true.  It indeed changed my scrapboking process.  I'm loving it more and more as I implement each and every system and hone and customize it to my own life.  If this is what you're after, read on. 

Always Be Current
How many time have you said, or heard somebody else say, "I'm so behind in my scrapbooking."  This isn't true for me anymore...  Because I don't just keep adding more and more photos to be scrapped in my photo box.  I'm not using a photo box anymore.  When my prints come in, I slide them into my 3-up photo storage binder IF I plan on scrapbooking them.

Now that I have my system in place, I don't "have" to scrapbook every single picture.  Or I don't have to scrapbook them right now.  I take a lot of the extras and file them away in my "photo category drawers" for later.  I always know where to find a photo when I want it because of my filing system. 

I love scrapping current photos because ... and this is going to sound strange... because if something happened to me today or tomorrow, I will leave my scrapbooks up to date... with the overflow in my filing drawers for my family.  Besides, isn't it fun to sit down with the just-taken photos and slap 'em on a page and get creative?  Isn't that part of what makes this wonderful art so fun? 

I love everyday pics of our regular life.  I don't just want to capture big events.  When you see one of your kids doing something cute, don't you want to snap that picture, print it out (or take it to one-hour printing) and get it into one of your albums right away?  That's a BIG part of what scrapbooking is about...keeping current with your everyday life.  At least it should be. 

One of my everyday layouts  Of all the snow pictures, I chose these two to commemorate the event

The easiest way to stay current and also be able to chronicle those every day memories on-the-go is to select just one or several standout photos from events and spend some creative time with those.  The rest from that event can be filed, either in a photo box or a storage album, or in category filing drawers like me.  The reason I like the storage binder so much (for photos I'll probably scrap in the near future) is that we can flip through the pages and see our pictures that aren't in scrapbook albums yet.  It's like having them in albums, but all you've done is slide them into the pockets for temporary storage.  I love it, love it.

If you've scrapped just one or two pages of an event using the BEST several photos, you can stay current.  If you feel like then going through your binder or photo box and pulling the rest of that event out to scrap, you can do it.  Also remember that with slide-in album protectors now, you can slip layouts in and out if you just _have to_ stay strictly chronological.  I use Creative Memories' Side-Loading Protectors now.  I create my pages on cardstock and printed paper and just slip them into the protectors--no bound pages.

This is my Number 1 way to stay current.  It makes sense, and it works. 

Digi Layout of My Two Youngest Granddaughters, Erica & Rachel, both age 8

Sometimes when we're overwhelmed with a backlog of photos enugh to fill another house, we tend to just want to get them in the albums and get it over with.  I found myself doing this after 10 years of abiding by the chronological, scrap-every-picture law. 

We want to have fun doing this, and most of us want to feel those creative juices fill our heads and come out on our pages. 


Learn to Lift.  I started learning from the masters.  You know who they are.  Becky Higgins, Ali Edwards, Stacy Julian, Cathy Zielske, and a load of others on the big worldwide net we love so much.  In the magazines you'll find them and their spectacular designs.  Lift those layouts!  In scrapbooking, it's legal.  It's not plagarism.  If you use somebody else's layout design publicly, you need to give credit.  But they're tons of "sketches" or page maps for free on the net you can use for your own layouts.  Eventually, you'll find yourself becoming more creative.  It's just like annything else in life.  The more you do it, the better you get at it.

Start Simple.  Simple is beautiful.  When you focus on just the best photo or two, instead of using all of the pictures on multiple two-page spreads, you start with a simple concept that ends up being more creative.  That's not to say you can't use more photos on a spread, but to stay current, this is the way to go:  document the here and now in your life right now.

The digital layouts on this blog may not look simple, but they are.  Not too much glitz or bling.  Some complementary paper, a title, and of course the story.  Maybe just one small bling.  Digital pages are fast and easy to show off your creativity.  Strictly paper takes a little longer, but the same rule applies.

This definitely is an evereyday layout, my garden.  I like to look back in my gardening section of my albums and see what we'd done in past years. 

Check back for more Scrapbook Strategies.  I'll be sharing some more of my organization systems as I upgrade them and layouts that you can "lift."  Feel free.  We're all in this together.

If you're new to scrapbooking, or want to get started, please leave comments, and I'll be glad to help. 

The digital layouts here were done with Creative Memoies' Storybook Creator.  Log on to my CM Page to learn more.

Women's Memoirs

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