Last year a couple of things came together for me that have helped to heal my grief and lift my spirits in a way I did not even know until this week.
The first was Becky Higgin's Project Life. I read about it late last year - I don't even remember how I stumbled across it. I used to scrapbook years ago, but then quit because my pages were so full of mixed media art that I thought I was doing it all wrong and should stick to mixed media art rather than scrapbooking. So I gave everything - and I mean everything - related to scrapbooking away. In retrospect, I wish I had not, but in releasing it all, it opened up other areas of art for me to explore, so I can't say I totally regret it.
Anyway, I somehow stumbled across this Project Life, a sort of "hybrid" way of scrapbooking - super simple, super pretty (pretty is important to me) and everything was there that you needed to get started - all I had to do was add photos and journaling. Awesome! So I told hubs about it and guess what I got for Christmas 2011? The gorgeous Amber kit (the one on the right - I think the one on the left is the Turquoise kit and there are other lovely kits to choose from, as well):
community of Project Lifers over at Big Picture Classes - so, of course, I joined. There, I discovered all kinds of great information - one of them being Oh Life!, a journal site that archives all your little daily notes (or long daily notes). What I love about it is that I get an email every day, type in the things I want to remember, then hit send and it goes straight into the archives for me to access whenever I need them. Love it!
I also discovered that there are a million ways to do Project Life via this community. Almost right off the bat, I become a bit intimidated...I forgot that it was suppose to be simple and focused instead on how to make it beautiful - forgetting that life IS beautiful and doesn't need any extra dressing to make it so. But I'm such a magpie sort of girl and I always go for sparkly, shiny bits and pieces, often forgetting about simplicity along the way. That is just how I am...
So, fast forward to January 2011 - I was all ready to begin - my album was set up, it was in location that I would see it and remember it, I had little baskets to hold my date stamp, journaling cards, corner rounder, etc. It looked shiny and beautiful sitting there waiting for me to get busy recording our beautiful life - when life struck (funny how that happens). Project Life became the thing I was living instead of the thing I was doing.
Maybe it is because it was so new to me that it just got pushed aside. I had not developed a "habit" of actually doing Project Life. I was so caught up in survival mode last year. The only thing I was able to do really was to record things in Oh Life!, which I did pretty regularly. I took photos, but not nearly the amount that I always have in the past - it just did not matter to me at that time.
Eventually, that shiny, sparkly book and all those beautiful supplies got gathered up and put in a closet in my art room. However, for some reason, I never stopped collecting "things" from my daily life - packaging of favorite things, bits and bobbles and even (truly) bits of string. (I told you that I am a magpie kind of girl). All of these I tucked into a bag, not really knowing what I'd do with them, but desperately certain that I need to do it.
Remember when I said there were a couple of things that came together? Another one was called Soul Restoration at Brave Girls Club put together by Melody Ross and her beautiful family. I took both of them (not perfectly, but good enough!). At first I felt more like I was just going through the motions, but as time went on I discovered that the lessons had really sunk deep into my soul and I was making some serious changes in my life.
The final big piece of the puzzle was a class I took at Big Picture Classes called Finding Photo Freedom given by Stacy Julian (it is not available at this time, as it is a live class, but I think she plans to offer it again). In this class I learned how to manage all the thousands of digital photos and paper photos that I have - over 47 years worth! I've slowly, but surely, been working through the photos, keywording them and rating, purging and narrowing down the ones that "tell the stories". Going through all those photos has been a wonderful experience, as well as a painful one - but the grieving has helped to heal me in so many ways!
Fast forward to now, January 2012. I am determined that this year I will use that gorgeous Amber kit - and once more it is set out with all the necessary supplies. I've had a year to think about it, mull things over and I am ready to leap into it. I was so sad, though, thinking I had lost last year among the grief, angst and super busyness. However, in copying photos onto my external hard drive to add to my Photoshop Elements catalog, I discovered a treasure trove of photos - just a few for each month, but they beautifully tell the story of 2011!! I pulled out the bag holding all my memorabilia from last year and sorted it into months, and joyfully discovered that I have plenty to create a lovely Project Life album that is a year in review, going month by month rather than week by week!
It was one of the best moments of the year so far! =) And, of course, I recorded that moment (grin).
So, finally the point of all of this: Becky Higgin's Project Life has made me see things in a different way - that life can be captured simply and beautifully, tell our family story and hold all of our memories of our daily, weekly, monthly lives for us to pull off a shelf and relive any time. I have tons of photos, and even bits and pieces of memorabilia for past years - maybe in time I will get around to putting them all together in simple albums, but for now I am going to start right where I am, and that is good enough!
I will put my 2011 album together, using design A inserts and a nice three-ring photo album (probably We R Memory Keepers or American Crafters) and use whatever journaling cards I have one hand (pulling from my Oh Life! archives) and all the memorabilia from the past year. I will do it gently and slowly and it will be done when it is done - but all my photos are organized (thanks to Stacy Julian's Finding Photo Freedom class) and my bits and pieces are gathered and sorted (thanks to Becky Higgins and her Project Life community):
I honestly can't wait to see where this takes me and my "stories"! One thing I DO plan on doing is to upload my week's pages here to my blog - it will keep me "accountable" but also be a record of what I have accomplished in this beautiful new year!
Keep it Joyful! Donna