I love when the day’s mail so perfectly reflects my frame of mind.
If you happened to listen to Episode 21 of The Digi Show you heard us talk about projects – from the past, from the present, and our plans for the future. I shared how I was feeling as though I’d gotten sidetracked with regards to what makes me happy when it comes to scrapbooking, and how I was feeling as though I should focus my attention on reconnecting with that rather than taking on projects in the hopes that they’ll somehow streamline or simplify the process for me.
Projects are great for drumming up stories, but I am not in (nor have I ever been in) a story drought.
I am in a scrapbooking drought.
When I was preparing materials for my guest spot at Debbie Hodge’s site, I made the following comment on Twitter:
I wanted to “get back to 2009,” which was a year where I really felt the most in touch with my inner memory keeper. I made sure that I took time to really think about my life and what was meaningful to me in the moment, and then I spent my time conveying that on my pages.
Over the past couple of years I’ve lost sight of that. Instead of carving time out to reconnect with those stories I’ve taken on “projects” instead. Projects that gave me a way to fill my time so that I had the appearance of documenting my memories, but really I was just creating things to document while purposefully avoiding documenting them in a way that fulfills my passion
My passion is digital scrapbooking. My passion is storytelling.
A good bit of my time in 2011 was spent trying new things each week, a project that I really enjoyed but that I didn’t necessarily care to include in my scrapbooks after I had already taken up quite a bit of time writing it out on my blog. I made a choice at the beginning of the year to blog them and NOT scrapbook them and that’s the format I stuck with for time management purposes. Having them preserved here on my site was enough for me, and when it becomes not enough for me I’ll pull off relevant ones and get them into our albums.
I amassed a large storage box full of Project Life supplies and I’ve tucked little bits and pieces of everyday life into the pockets, but I was quickly reminded of the fact that I don’t enjoy paper scrapbooking. Or hybrid scrapbooking. More than that: I don’t feel GOOD at it. I feel like it takes me too much time, that I think about it way too much, and that I wind up settling on getting the pages done rather than actually liking them.
Feeling as though I’m good at what I’m doing, whether anyone else agrees with me or not, is 99% of my happiness when it comes to creativity. I am not good at gluing things down or cutting things out. I am not happy when I’m walking back and forth from my desk to my printer to load photo paper into the tray. I do not like finding little bits of paper around my office. And more than that, I do not like having bins of paper supplies, bins of adhesives, a 12×12 album and things like paper cutters and hole punches in my office. My office used to be a place of zen solitude and it was starting to resemble a crop station at a craft store.
I spent some time in July trying A Week In The Life, thinking that would scratch my memory keeping itch. But as you may recall, the enthusiasm fizzled out for me. I consider myself an “everyday scrapbooker” but that was just way too much information about my everyday. I was on information overload because I could think of something meaningful to say about most of the photos that I took – but all packed into a one week span like that, my storytelling core shut down completely. Within those photos live some stories that I want to tell, but we needed some time apart.
The common thread with all three of the projects was that they kept me really busy – busy taking pictures, busy jotting down notes, busy buying supplies and organizing supplies. All of that busy work made me feel like I was documenting our lives. But they didn’t leave me feeling fulfilled. Instead I felt like I spent my time living up to arbitrary obligations that I’d set in my own head while ignoring what I truly love – which is sitting down at my computer and pouring my heart out onto a 3600 x 3600 px canvas in Photoshop. A photo from last week, a photo from last year, an experience from today or an emotion that happened to flutter through my heart.
That is where joy lives for me.
So my only scrapbooking project for the time-being will be to carve out time in my schedule to reconnect with the process that first won my heart. The organic, free-flowing stream of creativity that ends with my story on a 12×12 digital canvas – because that’s when I remember feeling my happiest as a memory keeper.
Which is not to say that you’re anything like me, or that you find your fulfillment in the same way that I do. It’s not even to say that I’ll feel the same way a year from now, or a month from now.
I’m not always good at examining whether I’m happy with the way I choose to spend my memory keeping time WHILE I’m spending it. I haven’t been asking myself “Is this how I really want to be spending this period of time?” This free hour that I have on a Sunday afternoon – what would I like to completely lose myself in for this hour? Because I have a finite amount of time, and I want to get back to enjoying how I spend that time.
More than that I want to get back in touch with what makes me love this craft; with what inspires me rather than what’s new or flashy. I need to clear out all of the other stuff and get back to the fundamentals for a while.
After all, I have all these untold stories from 2011 that have piled up while I’ve been occupied with other distractions. It’s high time they get their time in the sun.
So my question to you is this – when are you most happy as a memory keeper?
WEEK 48 | One of the few new tasks that I had to plan ahead for this year. At the beginning of November I made a deal with myself that I would commit to a work schedule for four weeks that pushed me dangerously close to my breaking point at times. My goal being that I would be able to take off a substantial amount of time in the month of December to recharge my creativity and spend time away from my office letting each day come and go without the weight of any responsibilities or deadlines.
I cannot state emphatically enough: I love my job.
Boy, do I love my job.
But since I hadn’t been in the habit of taking periodic breaks from my job I was getting entirely too comfortable pushing a lot of long-range goals and soul searching sessions off to the side for an ever-elusive “someday.” I used my down time during December to tackle some items on that list.
Like all of the best laid plans, there were things that popped up unexpectedly but for the most part I only really worked on projects when I felt the draw to do so.
WEEK 49 | This one was decidedly more fun. We went in pursuit of the perfect Bloody Mary. Tom and I are both fans of the cocktail because it’s delicious, it feels pretty damn nutritious for an alcoholic beverage, and because you can skewer a smorgasbord of bite-sized little tidbits (like smoked sausage, cheese, pickles, olives and marinated mushrooms) and drop them into it. It’s a vodka-infused meal in a glass, people.
We have our favorite haunts around town that make a great Bloody Mary – but we wanted to have them at our disposal here at home. On demand, if you will. Catered to our every whim.
We had originally tried making our own bloody mary blend from scratch (courtesy of Ina Garten of The Food Network) and it was merely “meh”. We could have fiddled with it over time and possibly come up with something that met with our approval, but the process was a giant pain to begin with – grating yellow onions isn’t the most pleasant way to spend an afternoon – so we were actually leaning more towards declaring defeat and leaving this to the mixologists at The Livery downtown.
But then we had invited our friends Alex & Alyssa over for dinner – and during a trip through the liquor department at the grocery store Alex recommended that we try Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix before we give up completely – and now we are in love. With the addition of some grated horseradish and a bunch of “Stuff From The Fridge On A Stick” it makes the best Bloody Mary we’ve ever had – local restaurants and taverns included.
It has also made for some real happy weeknights around here.
WEEK 50 | I started the process of Finding my Photo Flow with Kayla Lamoreaux. Kayla has been a guest on The Digi Show and I’ve scoured her blog in the past for tips on organizing my photos in Lightroom. So when she developed a class dedicated to the process of helping each person find their unique photo flow I knew it was going to be full of epic greatness.
My photo organization continues to be an ongoing process but I’ve accomplished a lot since my post back in August. Every time I was in Lightroom I would spend at least a few minutes working on more elaborate keyword tags for my photo library. The component that was still missing for me, though, was that “flow” for all of the new pictures I was generating and I also know that I can go a LOT further down the rabbit hole with my photo library. Kayla attempts to help everyone find their flow and is constantly adapting and refining her curriculum to address different aspects of this process as they arise.
What I didn’t expect from the class were the little snippets of much needed therapy that could be adapted to more than just the photos I take – like “Don’t shoot from the perspective of scarcity” and “Know your WHY.”
She’s a wise woman, that Kayla Lamoreaux. She’ll make you think about more than just your photo library.
I’m taking my time with the Photo Flow class, making sure that I examine my current workflow to determine what works for me and what is missing. I wasn’t too far into the class before I sent a message over Skype to Steph saying “I think I may be too dumb to find my photo flow” but that’s just the premature defeatist in me. The longer I let Kayla’s ideas simmer, the more they start to speak directly to me.
And the good news is that even though I haven’t actually finished the course yet, I have managed to apply the lessons I’ve completed to any NEW photos I’ve taken – so I’ll have less “photo flow catch up” to do once I actually find my photo flow.
WEEK 51 | I finally got myself a copy of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin – which has been on my “To Read” list for several months now. Like Kayla’s class I haven’t actually FINISHED the book yet, but if we wait until I finish it then this New52 project will be over with. (I knew this would happen at the end of the year!)
I used to subscribe to The Happiness Project Blog and then I lost track of it during an “OMG, my Google Reader has 1500+ unread items” purge. Then, during an Instant Message with Christine I mentioned how I hadn’t used the Birds of a Feather Notecard Set that she bought me ages ago – because I’m a bit crazy like that. They’re too nice, I have commitment issues when it comes to using them.
In turn she sent me a link to Gretchen Rubin’s post on Spending Out.
Touché, Listgirl. Touché.
After reading up on Spending Out again, I decided it was time to cross this book off of my “To Read” list, which is just another great example of how frittering away your time gossiping with a friend over Instant Message can lead to brilliant ideas.
WEEK 52 | I compiled 25 stories for December Daily. BUT – like the previous two items – it’s still a work in progress. Mostly due to the fact that Liz talked me into it at the last minute and I had already decided to take quite a bit of time off in December.
I went a little unconventional with my approach to this project and didn’t have one photo per day. I didn’t even necessarily have one story per day, and very few of them were actually Christmas related – but I did have 25 total stories for which I took photographs during the month of December.
I documented the stories themselves within the context of my 750words.com entries and as I get back into the swing of things here in the new year I’m hoping to pull everything together and get all twenty-five laid out very simply (like the pages above) in a 10×8 Blurb Book format.
25 stories down.
And 52 weeks completed.
I’ll be back with some ponderings and pontifications about this 52 week experience next week. It has definitely been a life-changer for me.
About This Project
New52 is a cooperative project between Christine and I that invites participants to live outside the box a little bit more and try things outside their comfort zone. Just because it’s 52 things for us doesn’t mean it needs to be 52 things for you. If you participate this week, please leave a link to your blog post, scrapbook page, photograph or other recorded history of your walk on the wild side in the comments below. It isn’t about making a life-altering changes every week, it’s about keeping an open mind and embracing little changes in your life.
Christine: I wish Pinterest could make some boards private
Peppermint: Me too
Christine: Like when I was gathering gift ideas
Peppermint: Me too! I’m always like “If I could have a private board, I’d put this on Pinterest”
Christine: Yea, seriously. You can have a private account where ALL your boards are private but you can’t just designate one board private.
Peppermint: Or just if you wanted to pin something embarrassing.
Christine: Yea, if you wanna have a board full of topless muscular men, you should be able to make that private.