Guess what? There's still time to enter to win one of two awesome giveways featured on Positively Present this week! See below for details.
Though I strive to live in the present, I've always been a big fan of preserving memories. For as long as I can remember, I've been documenting my life in some form through journal entries, short (but true) stories, photos, etc. And over the years I've made countless scrapbooks for other people. But I've struggled when it comes to keeping a scrapbook of my own. I love the idea of using words and images to capture moments that meant a lot to me -- but actually following through with it has been uncharacteristically difficult for me. Instead of organized albums, I have a box under my bed filled with greeting cards, photos, and miscellaneous memorabilia. Definitely not my typical keep-everything-organized style. Something was holding me back from making the most of my memories.
What's been holding me back in recent years is the idea that scrapbooks are for people with children, people with big families who have milestone moments like "first steps" or "first haircut" to document. As a twenty-something with no children, I've struggled with the term "scrapbooker" because it doesn't seem like something I should be doing. I don't have kids. I do almost everything on the computer. Why in the world would I want to create a scrapbook?
But the thing is, I did want to create one. I'd spent hours and hours of my life creating them for other people. Why shouldn't I have one for myself? I didn't need kids. I didn't need to live in the country with a white picket fence and a barn out back. Scrapbooking, I decided, could be cool. It could be for young women. Child-less women. Women who believe that things not on a computer screen could still be modern and cool and fun. (Men, too, can be scrapbookers -- though I've yet to meet one who was really interested in partaking in it...)
A few months ago I came across Project Life, and I knew I'd met my match. Project Life looked easier than traditional scrapbooking (the pages had layouts built in!), and it seemed much more modern. In short, it seemed cool. Sure, most of the examples I'd seen were created by women with children and filled with the memories of first birthday parties and clever kid commentary, but that didn't mean I couldn't create my own kind of Project Life.
Inspired to take on the task of creating a scrapbook that worked for me, I decided to add "Create a Project Life album" to my list of 29 Things to Do Before I Turn 30. Putting it on that list made it so much more likely that I'd actually do it! I then got to work gathering supplies (including the fabulous Clementine binder + core kit and the Big Variety Pack 2 photo pages, courtesy of Project Life). Picking out the supplies was fun enough -- but getting down to the actual scrapbooking turned out to be even more enjoyable than I'd anticipated. Because I was making this for me, and not for a friend or loved one, the pressure for perfection was off. I could put in anything I wanted -- and not worry about mess-ups or mistakes. Yay for liberated scrapbooking!
Scrapbooking might not be for everyone (though I'd highly recommend taking a look at Project Life if you think you're not the "scrapbooking type"), but keeping track of memories has a lot of great benefits. Here are the benefits I've already received just from the few weeks I've been working with my Project Life album...
Positive Benefits of Project Life
1. Creativity. In the past, I'd created scrapbooks for friends and loved ones in the past because not only was it a thoughtful gift for them, but it also inspired me to be creative. Some people might be reading this and thinking, "I'm so not the creative type..." but don't count yourself out. When you're working on a Project Life album (or any album that's just for you), you don't have to worry about what other people will think of it or if it looks "right." You can include anything you want in it -- and add as much or as little details as you'd like. And the brilliant thing about Project Life is that it comes with such great supplies that you can still be creative even if you don't consider yourself a creative type of person.
2. Reflection. As you probably know, I strive to live in the present and make the most of the current moment. But that doesn't mean I don't make time for a little recollection every now and then. While working on my Project Life album, I spent time reflecting on the past few weeks (I started working on it in late September) and, odd as it might sound, allowing myself to flip through photos and miscellaneous memorabilia from the past few weeks made me more present. It made me look at the things I'd taken note of then and consider all the things around me to concentrate on now. Also, now that I'm working on the album, I'm always on the lookout for fun things / quotes / photos to include, which makes me much more reflective in the present moment.
3. Focus. This might not happen for everyone, but when I'm working on a creative project -- whether it be a story or a painting or a Project Life album -- I get a zone. I'm experiencing what positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi refers to as "flow." When I'm working on the album -- choosing photos, cropping images, selecting items to tuck into the pages -- I'm fully immersed in what I'm working on. I feel a sense of energized focus, in which I'm fully involved in (and enjoying!) what I'm doing. As an incessant multitasker, any activity that allows me to experience this deep sense of focus is a worthwhile pastime. When I'm deeply involved in an activity, I'm 100% in the moment -- which is one of the best benefits of working on the album.
4. Fulfillment. Taking the time to look back over the past week / month / etc. provides me with an unexpected sense of fulfillment. I don't have the best memory -- or the best knack for pausing and trying to remember things -- but working on the album has forced me to slow down and recap the recent weeks. In doing so, I've actually begun to feel more fulfilled. Rather than moving quickly through each and every day -- rushing from one activity or even to the next -- I'm considering all the things I've done / seen / accomplished. Though I never realized it before, I do a lot in a week. Now, rather than simply glossing over life's events, I've given myself a reason to pause and take note of them -- leaving me with the realization that I'm doing -- and being -- a lot of things that leave me feeling fulfilled.
5. Insight. There's nothing quite like tracking your own life to give you some insight into yourself. Working on Project Life has helped me to see some of the things that are really important to me. It's also helped me to identify some of the areas of my life that I could focus more on. I'm a big proponent of learning to love yourself -- and one of the best ways to do this is to get to know yourself. Project Life has helped me make time to focus on me, to pay attention to the things that happen to me and the things that matter most in my life. You could, perhaps, get a lot of this internal insight by looking at your Facebook page or Pinterest board, but there's something about creating your own album -- an album you could keep entirely to yourself if you wanted to -- that gives you a deeper insight into who you are and what matters most to you.
Clearly I've received quite a few positive (and surprising!) benefits from working on my Project Life album. I'm not only learning more about myself, but I'm also looking at my life through a different lens. Making a scrapbook might seem just like a crafty diversion, but I'm discovering that there's much more to it than I would have thought. Even if you don't consider yourself a "scrapbooking type," (I certainly didn't!), it's worth trying, if just for all the positive benefits that can come along with it. Much to my surprise, I've found that creating a book of memories is a great way to stay both positive and present.
STAY POSITIVE GIVEAWAYS!
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Friday, October 19, 2012.