Saturday, November 8, 2008

Library of Memories and Shimelle of UK Scrappers Almost Make Me Cry

ETA: I have posted a few of my spreads HERE.

I just wrote an epic length comment on the blog at and I wanted to expand on it here.

Back this past spring, Shimelle of UK Scrappers began an online, year-long scrapbook project called Scrap Your Day. The premise is thus -- on the 25th of every month, you take pictures of your life. And in the days between each 25th, you scrapbook those pictures. Thus you are creating 1-2 layouts per month -- mini album size -- of your daily experience and what it's like to be you, right now, this year.

To assist with this idea, Shimelle offered a kit of materials, including a mini album and patterned papers, and a PDF explaining how to create all the backgrounds in the entire album all at once, in advance. Thus, every month all you have to do is print out 10-15 of your photos and use the PDF she also provides to layout those pictures. This mini album is photo heavy, so there is little room for any further embellishment. The album can stand on its own. Pictures + words.

And if you could not buy the kit, her instructions were easily adapatable to your own stash.

Every month on the 24th, Shimelle sends to those who have registered (this is a free project) a reminder to charge your camera batteries and take pictures the next day. The email includes a photo with a reminder which the recipient can post in their own blog to remind their readers about the project. I found out about the project through one of these bloggers. I was interested, so I followed the link and read about it, a bit after the first photo day, April 25.

At that time, I had not scrapbooked in 2-3 years, and I wondered if I ever would again. I was uninspired by the task of scrapbooking. My supplies and tools were either in storage, or scattered around my house, tucked away in corners and closets. I didn't want to drag it all out and "make a mess." But the project seemed very simple, like I could do it on my coffee table with just a few supplies, and I liked the idea of taking all these snapshots on a certain day and documenting my life.

Just as a side note, I have never ever taken an online class for scrapbooking, and I have never, ever been drawn to making "alternative" kinds of projects (I like the standard 12 x 12 event type scrapping). So this was odd for me.

So I just took all my April photos the next day. Then I took more photos in May -- not on the 25th though, because I wanted to take Memorial Day photos. I took the pictures on May 26th instead. I did not sign up on the website for the monthly reminders (I am not much of a "joiner" and I hate registering for things) or download any of the PDFs. I figured I could get the instructional PDFs later (not realizing there were photo composition worksheets that worked with the layout sketch and ideas -- oops!).

On another side note... I lost my job in January and have been unemployed (other than some freelancing) most of this entire year. On top of that. last winter I also had an accident, which precluded me from working. So when I started taking pictures, I had just gotten my cast off and was in physical therapy a lot. Also -- I am single and live alone (except for the dog), so I really didn't think I'd have much to document. My life is a lot of walking the dog every day, watching TV, my messy house, the occasional job interview (this is what I thought). What in the world would I even scrapbook -- a year worth of these boring photos???

Since I had not created the album in advance to contain the photos, I continued to take 30-50 shots per month, not realizing that was far too many for the smaller layout size. That's another side note.

Anyway, along about July I discovered Stacy Julian's Library of Memories system, which I have posted about on here before (quite a bit).

I read Stacy's book Photo Freedom and I was super excited. I spent the next 2 months working on setting up Library of Memories for myself. As I've posted here before, I got Storage Binders and Category Drawers. I set up a scrapbooking area. I consolidated and reorganized the few papers and embellishments I had laying around the house in various storage areas. I finally took my camera to the drugstore and printed out almost all of the pictures I had been taking (it was a new camera and I have yet to find the camera cord that came with it, so all my shots just sat on the camera for months). I did this because, thanks to LOM, I had a place to put all the pictures I had taken. I knew that even if I didn't use them for this project, I would want to have the prints of my daily life on hand for future inspiration.

So that was July, August, and most of September. I kept taking the pictures on the 25th. I finally downloaded the instructional PDFs from Shimelle's blog, and then realized I should take her photo advice on the day.

Ok so here is the point -- it's been a journey...

As I've posted before, because of LOM I have actually been able to start scrapbooking again, and I love it. I have a place to put my prints, my layouts, and my leftover shots after I've made a page. I am inspired. I am telling stories, not just documenting events. Yesterday I had caught up on a few projects I've been meaning to do, but I was awake and bored and jonesing for something more to work on. I realized my "Storage Binders" were very full, and it was due to all the SYD shots I've been taking and printing. I realized if I sat down and started scrapbooking these, then I would empty out a lot of space in these binders.

So keep in mind...this is 6 months of photos to scrap here. I had not made any backgrounds, and I did not have an album to use on hand. It was about midnight when I started. I began by trying to create all the backgrounds at once, and I found I didn't even have enough of one color of cardstock to make all consistent. So now it's half sage green and half cream. Oh well! I went looking through my papers and decided this was a chance to use all those lovely Basic Grey papers that look so cool in the store, but that colorwise go with nothing.

The first spread I did was actually June, for some reason. It was like pulling teeth. I am not much into "detail" shots, and I tend to think of using one tiny part of a big photo as cheating, of a sort. I like to fill the whole frame when I shoot, and if the picture isn't composed well, I tend to not print it out. So I had at least 25-30 shots per month, but cropping them as extensively as the sketches require was really difficult for me. I struggled with it quite a bit. It probably took me 2 hours to get the first spread done. That was such a creative challenge for me!

In addition, on that June spread, I created the photo pockets as indicated in the sketch and "hid" additional photos inside the pockets -- also something I never do. If I like a photo I want it seen on the main layout. If I don't like it enough to show it, I don't scrapbook it. I covered the backs of these "hidden" photos with cardstock and wrote some journaling, and added ribbon tabs to their edges to peek out.

Of course I had far more awesome photos I'd taken and paid to print than I could ever ever use. Picking which ones to use here was sooooo hard! I journaled by hand -- also something I don't usually do. I picked up my scrapbooking pen and I just wrote. I didn't use my most illegible scrawl, but I also didn't sit and use my "fancy" handwriting. This is what my handwriting looks like, right now. And I just wrote about what I thought when I looked at these late June photos. How I bought my condo in July, when my neighborhood has a big 4th of July fest every year, and how every June when I see the fencing and signs for the festival go up, it reminds me of the passage of time.

Once I did it, I loved it. Imperfections and all. Boring pictures of random "FIRE LANE PARKING ZONE" signs and all.

At this point it was 2:30 am and I was on a roll. I continued on. I made page after page. I scrapbooked my goddaughter's dance recital from April, and I wrote about how I've been going to her dance recitals since she was 4, and how she has grown up before my eyes, and how much I miss my baby, but how proud I am of her. I have taken pictures of her dance recital every year for 8 years and had yet to scrapbook one of those pictures.

I scrapbooked the annual camping trip I take with my brother and his son and their friends every July, and I wrote about our annual traditions. Again, have been taking these photos for years and had yet to document these trips, which are so important to me.

I had at least one month where nothing, and I mean nothing, happened on the 25th. All I had were photos of the errands I ran -- pictures of the grocery store and the post office and doing my laundry at the laundromat.

I had a month where I was downtown on job interview on the day and I walked around taking pictures of my beautiful city (Chicago), and pictures of the EL of all things, which I have never done before, even though riding the El is a big part of any true Chicagoan's life. And I scrapbooked some of these shots and wrote about how much I love this city and why. Again, never ever done that, even though I have a zillion pics I have taken of my hometown.

Finally... I turned 40 last month. I did not include photos of the day itself in this album, since it was on the 14th. But I did write about it on the October spread. I wrote about the birthday trip my best friend and I took, and the family dinner my mom hosted, and all the other celebrations that took place. I wrote it next to pictures of fall leaves and my shoes -- for some reason I take lots of pictures of shoes and of peoples' feet and walking, it's a theme with me -- and my godchildren goofing off and showing their personalities, and some of the Halloween decor I have up.

So that is as far as I got, and it took my until about 5 am. SIX MONTHS of pictures. It was creatively challenging, but once I did the first spread I found the others to be easier and easier to do. And I wanted to tell Shimelle how I felt when I got to this point. 2008 has been among the very worst years of my life thus far, and when I looked at this album, after doing the October page, I just about started to tear up a little. I guess some people could look at my life as sad and pathetic (I actually had someone do this to me at a Halloween party last week! astounding!), being 40 years old now, unemployed for almost a year, no kids or husband to "give my life some kind of meaning" (thank you, random party lady for talking to me like I just told you I have cancer and only 1 month to live), days upon days with nothing to do but get my strength back and go on interviews and walk the dog and watch TV.**

But instead, I look at this album, and I see the beauty that resides in my life. I see that I love and that I am loved. I see my friends. I see my family. I see children that light up and run to give me a kiss when I come over. I see adventures and road trips and yearly traditions. I see growth. I see wonder.

I think I would still have done this wonderful project even without Library of Memories, but it would have been a lot harder, and I might have put it off and put it off. It is so nice that I could print all the pictures I thought I might like to use, and have a place to put them in a very organized way. It was so nice to have a reason to look for things to take pictures of. I took pictures of the places I go every day, the purse I carry, my shoes, my new pink watch from Target, the guy at the 7-11 where I buy my Diet Coke (his name is Harry and I have known him for 5 years). I took pictures of my alarm clock and the meals I have eaten and the changing view from my balcony. I took photos without any hesitation, without any thought of "What am I going to do with a photo of THAT?!!?" knowing that I have a digital storage system that works, and a way to store the physical prints. Because of Library of Memories *I had those photos all printed out and available to me* so when it was midnight and I had that moment of inspiration I could act on that fleeting inspiration.

Stacy has written that last bit over and over and over -- in her books, in her blog, she probably has a T-shirt printed with it. Have your photos printed out. Have them organized. Invest the time. Invest the money. Print more than you have an idea for at this moment. Because when that moment comes at midnight, and you have that urge, you want to be able to act on it without frustration, without road blocks. You don't want anything to squash that fragile creative urge and that burst of creative energy. It passes. It can fade before you even think about it.

Because I have my Category Drawers set up, once I completed a month's layout, the leftover prints were sorted through and most were put in a drawer, behind a tab, for future projects. Believe it or not, I actually threw away some of the prints. My "Home" tab for this town and this home has something like 50 photos in it now. So if I ever get that fleeting urge to create a page or a gift album or a big ole 12 x 12 album on this home and this place, I can do it immediately.

To Shimelle Laine and Stacy Julian, all I can say, again and again, is THANK YOU THANK YOU. And to Ali Edwards, because her very recent blog project "A Week In The Life" also inspired me to actually sit down and work on this project.

As our idol Ferris told us, back in high school:

Life moves pretty fast

If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

(and also now I am totally jonesing, bc I did 6 months in a row and now I have to wait to do the rest!!!!)

** Obviously this is far from true, because one of the projects I had "just finished" before starting this one was scrapbooking the mini get away to Wisconsin I just came back from with The Man In My Life. He planned this surprise trip to Hamilton House, an absolutely gorgeous and amazing B&B in a Second Empire mansion in Whitewater.

.....then again I will be the FIRST woman to tell you, I don't need some guy to give my life meaning.

I'm just saying....I do more than lay around my house watching TV.


homedotmade said...

What a moving story. I too am a LOM 'graduate' and I've loved the ease in which I can find my pictures. Okay, so I still don't print all of them. But I have my digital 'drawers' for my post-digital pics and my sorting system for the pre-digi ones.

You ARE special. I'm so glad you are able to see the meaning in your life, even without what many feel are the 'traditional' signs of it.

a blog lurker peeking out...

Katherine said...

WOW! What an awesome accomplishment!! I am also an LOM alumni ('06,'07,'08!) and I have set up my system but I keep tweaking it. I never found ring bound albums and had to make do with post-bound but I will be changing that next. I am also on a new mission to print out all of the photos on my computer. Since there are almost 20,000 it will take a long time but I haven't scrapped any of them and the only way to do that is to actually print them out.

That said - I have found the shear number of photos overwhelming and yet, with a system (LOM) I know I will be able to keep them under control as each set comes in. Such a great feeling!

That 'lady' who dissed you would never understand your life/experiences unless she walked a mile or two in your shoes and it is a shame that she had to be so judgmental in a party setting (or at all, actually.) But the amazing part is that with your creations you see how wrong she is! What an amazingly wonderful realization! Your life has such meaning and beauty even with the craggy bits and some times it takes creative expression to see it all.

Thanks so much for sharing! I'm so inspired to get started printing those extra photos and getting down to business!

Katherine M

Meadow Walk said...

Thank you both so much for your beautiful comments.

You know, I always have known I am special (which really annoys some people). It's why I never felt like I needed to create a specific scrapbook project to celebrate that fact, like an All About Me album or page. Does that make sense? Like I have never bothered to create a scrapbook page that points out I have dark brown hair and olive skin, but light green eyes. It just seems obvious and I see it every time I look in the mirror. People constantly compliment me on my coloring, and when they do, I am surprised by it, because I forget that it is unusual.

Anyway -- that's why I was so surprised at the emotion I felt in looking at this album! Whoa, where did that come from?!?!

Right now I am working on a scrapbook project that will be a Christmas gift for someone but I won't say who on here. (shhhh!)

Katherine, I use the American Crafts 3 ring albums and I have found them at both Archivers and Hobby Lobby. Not sure if you have those stores near you. Hobby Lobby has a 50% off all albums sale every 3 months, so when they had it last time, I stocked up on mine.

stacyj said...

I am so grateful for people like you.

Thank you for your kind words here and for the honest and respectful comments left on my blog. I have never intended to sway people to think or believe what I believe. I sincerely love people -- all kinds of people. I absolutely believe that diversity and the freedom to express our diverse thoughts and experiences is what makes America great -- thank YOU for being a wonderful woman and a great American.

If it's OK with you, I'd like to share some of your LOM insights on my blog?? Let me know.

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a fabulous journey you have been on. Each of our lives are special. What is right for one person may not be right for another. How fortunate that you have documented YOUR life and seen how precious daily life can be.

falwyn said...

Wonderful, inspiring story! Especially for me at the moment as I'm in a scrapping slump (particularly because all my paper supplies have no home right now - but even where digital is concerned!), and it's very disconcerting. Thanks so much for sharing.

Meadow Walk said...

Thanks falwyn! I bought some vertical storage from Cropper Hopper and it has been a paper lifesaver! Check it out!

Maxi dresses for weddings said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.