My thoughts on "Journal the Hurts; Scrapbook the Highs"

I just posted an article by Joanna Campbell Slan titled, "Journal the Hurts; Scrapbook the Highs".  It's an article that has stayed with me for years now -- if you'll notice the copyright at the end of the piece, it reads 2001.  (That's practically a lifetime in scrapbook industry years!) 

In my classes, I continue to reference this article.  It expressed succinctly a key point I try to stress -- that scrapbooking about challenges can be rewarding and healing, but it doesn't have to include every last sordid detail of each experience.  When I first read it, I immediately appreciated how Joanna was able to put those thoughts into words.

Unfortunately, even though I mentioned the concept in my classes, I had no where to point students so they could read the article on their own.  The article was originally (and exclusively, I believe) posted at Graceful Bee, a now-defunct online scrapbooking magazine (may she rest in peace -- GB was a pioneer in online scrapbooking magazines, truly innovative and groundbreaking).  Since the GB archives are gone, so too was Joanna's article.

So I recently bucked up my courage to email her and ask if I could reprint it here on my blog, so I could use the permalink in my class handouts.  Joanna graciously agreed.  Yea!

As I said, the article sums up most of my thoughts on scrapbooking and journaling about challenging topics, whether sad times, regretable times, bitter times, hateful times, traumatic times, times of betrayal, times of deep loss, or a multitude of other "negative" emotions or situations.  Poor health, death, school bullies, depression, natural disasters, divorce, the loss of a close friendship -- none of us are immune to these kinds of life events.  The question often comes to me (and Joanna, obviously) -- how do I scrapbook the 'hard times'?  Should I even scrapbook them?

Both Joanna and I seem to agree -- yes, you can definitely scrapbook about life's challenges.  Do you have to?  No.  Can you?  Yes.  It's a personal decision.

For example, divorces (or just past relationships) are often hard to handle in scrapbooks, but still valuable...

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Scrapbook Journaling: Journal the Hurts; Scrapbook the Highs

By Joanna Campbell Slan,
First North American Rights for publication in e-mail serial form
First published on Graceful Bee online scrapbooking magazine

Allow me to introduce my new mantra. Many of you have written to ask how do you scrapbook a rough patch in your life. Whether that rough patch is a child's problematic year in school, a spiteful in-law, a soured romance or a lamentable first marriage, the place to explore your feelings is in a journal.

Life's disappointments are like sewage. It has to be processed before it can be non-toxic. That anger you feel toward your mother-in-law may change one day, when you understand how it feels to watch your darling son walk off into the sunset with another woman. The pain of a bad school year pales when your child is linked with a teacher who finds the good in every child and nurtures your child to a peak performance.

Trust me, kiddos. I'm older than I could once imagine. Each week I am forced -- and I do mean forced -- to re-evaluate a tidbit of life that I would have sworn is true. While looking for a blank journal, I pulled down a journal I'd written in sparsely. How different I am. How much I've grown. How thankful I am that those experiences led me to this place.

Will I ever scrapbook any of this? Oh, sure. But I'll scrap them now with hindsight. Now if I do a page on my son's horrible school year, I'll include the song we sang called the CDS Blues. Now I'll think about that jerky boyfriend, and remember he introduced me to lobster and fried clams. That spiteful in-law? Last week he learned he'd held a misconception about me for 17 years. That page will wait. The first marriage? It led me here. Without that misstep I would not have appreciated the man I'm married to now…and forever. I can scrap the old by celebrating the new. Enough said.

But all of that, dear ones, is hindsight. Worked out in a journal. Processed through prayer. And not necessarily what I'd pay homage to on a scrapbook page. Life's too short to waste creative energy on bad times. Instead, I'll devote my pages to the good and the uplifting. Let my journal shelter my growing pains, and let my memory album showcase my best self.

Copyright Joanna Slan, 2001. All Rights Reserved

[Editor's Note: Joanna Campbell Slan is one of the earliest pioneers of scrapbooking journaling -- I would in fact call her the "Mother of Scrapbook Journaling" as we know it.  She has written 6 books for scrapbookers including her original book, Scrapbook Storytelling, which has sold more than 35,000 copies. You can sign up for Joanna's journaling newsletter at]

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Scrapbook Journaling Idea: What's In Your...

In Blogspeak, a meme is an idea that is shared and passed from blog to blog, like a question posted in one blog and answered in many other blogs.


Via gauchogirl, via Teresa McFayden, I recently found a wonderful meme that is wonderful Book of Me fodder.  Since I haven't officially been tagged (at least to my knowledge -- I'm a little behind in my blog reading), I'll just share the prompts here.

  • What's In your Fridge?
  • What's in your Closet?
  • What's in your DVD Player?
  • What's in your car?
  • What's in your purse?

I'd also like to add, "What's on your bookshelf?"  That's a layout I teach in one of my classes, and can be very telling about your personal interests, needs, intellectual pursuits, etc.

Answer these prompts on your blog, then print them out, take some appropriate photos, and scrap them!  Instant snapshot of your life!

I have layout examples for the car and bookshelf prompts in my Class Projects photo album, if you're interested.

Get Started Quickly in Scrapbook Journaling!

I'm getting ready to teach another class at WritersOnlineWorkshops called Getting Started (Quickly) In Scrapbook Journaling.  It's based on Joanna Campbell Slan's book, One Minute Journaling.

The purpose of this workshop is to provide you with an understanding of key journaling techniques that will help you write both faster and better. With the assistance of creative exercises, hands-on writing assignments, and constructive feedback, you’ll develop a more productive approach to your journaling.

Learn how to save more of your family and personal stories in less time with this four week course on scrapbook journaling. This online course will help you identify your personal style so it can work for you rather than against you; harness both sides of your brain; master a variety of techniques for collecting information; organize your writing so you know exactly what you want to write and how you want to say it; and practice new styles of journaling.

I'm looking forward to this change of pace -- picking it up a little!  I hope you'll join me!  Better hurry -- the class starts May 11th, but registration closes May 8th!

Update: This class has been rescheduled to start June 8th, with a registration deadline of June 5th!  There's still time to register!  And remember the coupon code good for 15% off: AP2006

Scrapbook Journaling Alert: Amazing Month of Memories ebook series

I've posted about Katie the Scrapbook Lady's journaling guru-ness before -- specifically her Roundup Your Memories reminders (in February and in March), as well as her Daily Scrap Challenges Resource List.  I couldn't find a link to any post I'd made about her Amazing Month of Memories ebook series, but I'm a believer.  Her ebooks are downloadable (PDF) guides to journaling your way through the month. 

As soon as she introduced the series, I plunked down my money and ordered her to hook me up.  Her guide did not disappoint.  I was blown away by the amount of resources she had compiled: month-long themes, daily holidays, over 100 journaling ideas, quotes, and Internet links.  Total brain-candy for a journaling junkie like me. And tell me I don't know a good scrapbook journaling resource when I see one.

And at $5, how can you beat it?  I know it took her more than an hour to compile all those resources, and even the kids at McDonald's get more than $5 an hour!  And when was the last time you were able to buy a scrapbooking idea book for $5??

But here's the thing -- when she first posts the availability of the next month's ebook, she offers a 50% discount to her blog readers!  $2.50?  Hello!   Today she posted the offer again: May issue on sale 50% off.  But only until midnight on April 26th (that's Wednesday), so hurry over there now!

Scrapbook Journaling Tip: Use Journey Jots

Once again, Tina ROCKS with her journaling suggestions -- have you seen her latest post, Journey Jots?

Completely do-able journaling suggestion: get some cheap index cards, and keep them in the kitchen, in your purse, and in a few other places scattered throughout the house.  Everyone can grab one and "Jot" down something they want in mommy's scrapbook. Then store them with your pictures and scrapbooking supplies.  Tina says the key is to "be sure to make them easy and quick to use!!"

Well, duh!  What a simple, great idea!  I LOVE how she explains her whole "system", how it actually plays out in her family, and her examples from her own notes, as well as "When to Use Jots", and "How to Use Jots While Scrapbooking".

Super resource, well worth checking out.

Adventures in Creating without Fear

Have you SEEN Kelly Angard's new "Adventures in Creating without Fear™ series of blog posts??  She has them posted on her Creative Collage blog.

For the past six months, I have posted a variety of creative techniques that can be integrated into all kinds of artistic mediums: mixed media art, collage, scrapbook layouts, art journaling, etc. While the techniques have been wonderfully well recieved (thanks to many of you posting links and referrals on your sites and blogs!), I couldn't help but listen to what I kept hearing week after week:

"I hope to try this technique some day..." or
"I'd love to try this technique when I have some time..."

I've been listening...and more than that...I understand what I've been hearing. I understand what "some day" means because I struggle with the same things you do...too little time and too much to do. HOWEVER, I also know the truth that lies behind these statements...and I think that it's "I'm afraid."

So what does all this come down to? Fear.
- fear of not getting something "finished"
- fear of not choosing the "best" option
- fear of feeling like we've wasted our time

- fear of possibly creating something we don't like (ugly!!!)

In the coming weeks, I'll be pretty much flying without a map...travelling down the road alongside of you, helping to combat the variety of fears that rise up in us when it comes to facing and creating on the blank page, canvas or cardstock.

Oh.  My. Gosh.  Wow. 

She's posted two creative exercises, and both are just absolutely inspired.  I have been blown away since the very beginning -- first with the fact that she noticed the trend of fear surfacing in comments you received, then moving on so proactively to doing something about it -- truly being a leader, while at the same time admitting and facing her own fears.  The journaling prompts from Week 1 invoked such a passionate response in me -- I never would have named that feeling as "fear".  But I realized I do struggle with it.

In regards to creative projects, I struggle most with the concept of "good enough" and not enough time -- two fears Kelly pointed out in her post.  I suppose that means I'm not alone.

Actually, the feeling I had upon reading her post was so nearly overwhelming, I think "fear" is something I might need to explore a little more deeply, even outside of creativity and creating -- what else is fear holding me back from, beyond creative endeavors?

I'm afraid my ideas won't find a home, or that someone will think they're stupid.  I'm afraid of putting myself out there and being rejected.  I'm afraid of becoming a "has-been" (and even more afraid I already am).  I'm afraid of showing off my work and being labeled as a fraud because I've worked so hard to establish myself as an "expert".

What role does fear play in your life?

Romantic Month in Review

Michael Webb shares a neat memory-preservation idea in his most recent newsletter, Romantic Tip of the Week - Romantic Ideas and Tips.

My husband and I have a pocket calender that we write important information in on those important dates as well as little things we do through out the year.  We write everything from a movie we saw to a great night of l*ve making.  We go back through each month of the ca lander at the end of each year and laugh and enjoy all the crazy and romantic things we did through out the year.  We then talk about the great things we want to share in the year to come.  It is a great way to remember all the "little" moments we spent together as well as the "big" ones.  We have a great time with it and it brings us closer.

I know a lot of scrappers do a family Month in Review, but I haven't seen this romantic slant before.  Don't forget to document your romantic relationship, too!

Katie's March Roundup of Memories

36_22_24 Katie the Scrapbook Lady has posted her March Roundup

What is the “roundup?” Well, it’s my idea for closing out the month....This year, I will take time at the end of each month to review my calendar, my pictures, my layouts, and anything else that will help me “roundup” my memories. Then I will make sure I have the details recorded. This will be an enormous help when it comes time to create layouts and add journaling. It is also a wonderful reflection tool and a great way to stay on track with goals and ideas.

Here are some of her prompts for March:

  • What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
  • What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
  • What special days did I celebrate and how?
  • What illnesses or health concerns did I have in March?
  • What fun things did I do with my friends and/or family?
  • What new foods, recipes or restaurants did I try in March?
  • What special or unusual purchases did I make?
  • What were this month’s disappointments?
  • What were my accomplishments this month?

She also offers a to-do list of various "administrative" tasks to help keep us organized (more power to ya, Katie! ;) )  Check it out!