Tell Your Story: The 2021 Plan

Two and a half years ago, I shared my struggles with telling my story. I talked about a few different roadblocks I was experiencing.

  • Huge gaping holes in our family’s story. How do I fill in the holes? Do I want to fill in the holes? Or are there parts of our story that I’m still just not ready to share yet? Maybe parts I never want to share?
  • Lack of journaling. Do I remember why I took the photos? What was happening in our lives when the photos were taken, or when we didn’t take any photos at all? What was happening in the world? What’s the backstory?
  • Clutter & lack of organization? Where is everything? How do I combine the digital and physical bits of our lives? There are time periods with just physical photos and ephemera. I have time periods with a mixture of digital and physical photos and ephemera. I have other time periods with only digital photos and physical ephemera. How can I combine things? What do I need/want to keep?
  • There are so many different ways to tackle this. What tools do I want to use?

I came up with some solutions to some things then that I wanted to try. Since it’s been over two and a half years, let’s check in and see where I am.

Did I Meet My 2017 goals?

According to my Summer 2017 recording for Modern Photo Solutions, out of the previous 11 years, I only had TWO years completely scrapbooked, and had more than 15,000 unscrapbooked digital photos, and boxes of 35mm photos.

Update: As of January 8, 2021, I now have 2005, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018*, and 2019* finished. I am almost finished with 2020. Two years have an “*” next to them because I’ve finished scrapbooking all the photos I have from those years. I am waiting for photos from a couple of plays my girls were in. I was in the process of getting them from the director when Covid hit. I have to physically go to her home with my external hard drive to copy the photos. It will likely take a couple of hours. I’m counting them done until I get the photos! As far as the 15, 000 unscrapbooked photos, I’m not going to physically count all of my unscrapbooked digital photos. I don’t want to know how many I have now! I am really proud of myself for accomplishing this! I documented some really hard times our family went through during these years. It can be hard to fill those Huge Gaping Holes, when there’s a lot of pain hiding there. Here’s the secret… there was also a lot of joy and happiness and beauty right next to the painful memories.

My 2017 memory keeping goal was to stay current with 2017 while finishing my 2016 pages.  I’m not sure if I met that goal during 2017, but as of today, 2016 & 2017 are both finished.

Organization Sundays still pop up on my calendar, but they have become a thing of the past. I do remind my family to open Dropbox and upload their photos on a weekly basis. A couple of times a month, I transfer everyone’s photos to my computer and organize them in LightRoom.

My Goals for 2021

I don’t want to label it as a goal, for some reason, but I definitely want to place an emphasis on telling our story in 2021, and I want to tell our story while it’s happening. 2020 was an eventful year and I feel like a lot of it is a blur. Already. I don’t want to lose 2021. So much has already happened and we’re just over a week into the year.

The Prep Work: Gathering all the stuff

We have so much information at our fingertips. As I’m scrolling Instagram, Twitter and news sites I am taking screenshots of the things I want to remember, and the things that will help me tell the story of our year. Weekly, I’m taking a screenshot of the forecast for the week, the Covid testing numbers for Utah, the school Covid dashboard, as well as emails & communications from the school. I’m taking screenshots of new stories and images. I take a screenshot of our Come Follow Me Sunday School lesson title & image almost every week. If anything stands out to me in the study, I add a screenshot of that as well. I’m also taking screenshots of quotes, memes and other cultural references that will help round out our story. Not all of those things will end up going in our scrapbook each week, but they’ll help me remember what was going on and help me tell our story. I’m also planning to write a quick weekly journal of how & what everyone in the family is doing. It will probably live in an app on my phone until I’m ready to document that week.

The Process

I’m still finding that I really love doing a weekly 2-page layout in a pocket-style digital format. Some weeks end up being 4 pages or even 10 (yep, 10). And that’s totally okay with me. I’m not limiting what I want to share. Other people are very strict at keeping to the 2-page layout and that is completely wonderful for them. I wholeheartedly support them. I am not a minimalist, in any way! I designed a set of This Year 2021: Journal Cards that I’ll be using, along with my Life in Pockets Templates, to tackle this year. The Journal Cards are very similar to 2020’s cards. I scrapbook all my weeks from Monday thru Sunday so that weekend events are all together.

What I’m Hoping to Achieve

Sunday evenings, I’m hoping to spend an hour documenting. I want to scrapbook the previous week’s photos. This part is going to sound confusing but since I scrapbook Monday thru Sunday, I don’t mean the week I’m currently in. For example, the Sunday at the end of Week 2, I hope to be documenting photos from Week 1. I’ll be seven days removed from the stress but will still be able to remember the details. Hopefully, these pages don’t take an hour each week. I’m planning to have 2020 finished by the end of this weekend. That will free up some time to work on 2015, then 2014 as well. Those two years are going to take a long time. I only have 3 months finished in 2015, and none finished in 2014. Thankfully, I didn’t take a ton of photos in those years.

For now, I’m using Photoshop with my Life in Pockets Templates to document these pages. I originally planned to use the Project Life app, but my phone is too full and can’t handle running the app. A new phone isn’t in the cards, and neither is an iPad right now. I have my eyes on a shiny new gold 128GB iPad with an Apple Pencil and I’m hoping to purchase it for myself in the next few months as an incentive for meeting my business goals. At that point, I’ll likely use the ProjectLife app for my “catch up” years to fill in holes.

The Results

As soon as I have enough finished layouts to fill a section of an album, about 3-4 months, I print the individual pages at my favorite professional print lab, PersnicketyPrints. Then I add them to these black faux leather 12×12 albums from We R Memory Keepers. They can be hard to find and they are frequently out of stock, but they’re my favorite. I want to eventually replace all my other albums with these.

As soon as I get my 2020 pages finished, I’ll put in a PersnicketyPrints order and document my process. Putting the pages in sheet protectors and adding them to albums is my favorite part of this entire process.

Quick Recap

This got a bit long-winded, but the plan is to tell our 2021 story while it’s happening, and use any extra time to fill in the 2015 then 2014 holes. I also will be putting together photo books for my daughters with pages from the various musical theater productions they’ve been in, assuming I can get the photos from the director. This is a totally manageable plan. And guess what, it’s flexible. I’ll be checking in with you and sharing tips and tricks I come across each month. I’ll be doing layout shares and pointing you towards fun products I’m using for my albums.

Keep Scrapping!

Tell Your Story: Identify the Problems in Your Memory Keeping

This post was originally written in May 2017

About a week ago, I talked about how I felt like I was failing at telling our family’s story. I was completely overwhelmed and quite honestly, I was avoiding the issues. I am happy to report that I am feeling much more positive than I was last week.  And I have learned that I am not alone! A lot of people are having the same issues as me.  I have done quite a bit of targeted research over the last week. It’s amazing how information can help you become empowered. I’m no longer avoiding my scrapbook and personal history writing issues, I’m tackling them and learning from my mistakes. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing information I’ve learned with you. I hope that it helps you feel empowered to tell your life story, too!

Step 1: Identify the problem(s)

Well, that sounds like an obvious step, but it’s one that I hadn’t done yet. I complained about not having things done, but I had never written down all of the problems. I am a visual person and writing something down helps me process it better. If you’re like me, grab a piece of paper and start listing all the issues you are having with your memory keeping process. You could also do this in Evernote or really anywhere you can make a list. Your list may be very different than my own, and that’s okay! We are all on our own memory keeping journey, and everyone’s path will be a little bit different.

Problems:

  1. I have big holes of time that are not scrapbooked.
  2. There are big holes in the content of our story.
  3. We may have incomplete photo backups, local & online
  4. There are pieces of memorabilia and photos scattered throughout my house
  5. I have boxes of 35mm film that has not been digitized
  6. Not all of my images are tagged or organized
  7. No one in our house has their entire personal history written

Step 2: Research

Armed with my list of problems, I headed out in search of answers! I will share my research findings in future posts. I’m still learning, so adding to this section will be ongoing.

Step 3: Design a Plan of Attack

For each problem, list a couple of different possible solutions. I used post-it notes so I wouldn’t have to scribble things out. Plus, I really like the colors. I’ll share my post-in notes in future posts, too.

Step 4: Implement the Plan

Just do it. Come up with a plan and commit to it. Add entries to your calendar. Set goals. Make yourself accountable for your plan. Come up with a system to reward yourself for meeting your goals.

Step 5: Evaluate the Plan

In 1 month, take a step back and evaluate your plan.  Are you happy with the progress you’ve made? Do you need to adjust any goals? Set a date with yourself and your memory keeping each month to evaluate where you are and if the plan is still working for you. If it’s not working, go back to Step 3 and see if any of your other possible solutions would work better for you. If those don’t seem like they would work for you, go back to Step 1. Is the original problem still a problem you care about or has something else become more important? While it’s important to set goals, remember that they aren’t written in stone. They can be updated, changed or even replaced with new and better goals. This is YOUR family’s personal history. You have to do what’s best for you.

Repeat this process as often as is necessary.

What’s on your problem list?

Tell Your Story: Huge Gaping Holes!

This post was originally written May 28, 2017

Last week, I outlined all of the problems in my memory keeping process and identified big gaping holes as my biggest problem! About a year ago, I mentioned that I have huge holes of time in my scrapbooks. And I recently told you guys about the holes in our family story. What I would like to do today is share with you the information I’ve found that I will be using to tackle these big holes!

The first thing I noticed when I started doing research is that several of my story telling problems can be grouped together. My holes of time, story holes and lack of written personal histories are really one big problem. I’ll cover writing personal histories in another post. The scattered memorabilia and boxes of 35mm photos are really one organization problem, and the incomplete backups and lack of metadata are another organization problem.

HUGE Gaping Holes

There are so many different ways to scrapbook and preserve memories. There is no right way and no wrong way to preserve your family’s memories. Everyone uses a different process for memory keeping and writing personal histories. I use digital scrapbooking as my primary method of memory keeping. My pages in a digital format and can be easily shared and backed up. If something happens to my scrapbook, I can easily print another copy with minimal work.

Gaping Holes of Time:

I started digital scrapbooking in 2005 when my daughter was almost a year old. I skipped around and scrapbooked whatever I felt creatively inspired to scrapbook. Out of the previous 11 years, I only had TWO years completely scrapbooked, and had more than 25,000 un-scrapbooked digital photos, and boxes of 35mm photos. I love working in Photoshop and it’s a great creative outlet. However, I tend to be a perfectionist and it can take me hours to create a layout. So, while I enjoy scrapbooking in Photoshop, it’s simply not fast enough for me to ever get our family’s story told.

Things I Learned:

There are ways to help your digital scrapbook pages come together quickly. You can use templates, QuickPages and pocket-style pages. I have started mostly using pocket-style templates when I scrapbook in Photoshop. I even created my Life In Pockets template
sets so I could find the exact page configurations I wanted! I do occasionally use templates to scrapbook non-pocket-style layouts. Those pages still take me a long time! Did you know that you can scrapbook on your phone? You can use apps to scrapbook! And apps can make scrapbooking fast! I don’t have statistics or facts, but I can tell you about my experiences.

Project life app:

In September 2014,
Becky Higgins released the Project Life App. I downloaded it on my iPhone 4 and started playing. My sad little phone just couldn’t keep up. I didn’t have any storage space and couldn’t do much scrapbooking. But I was in LOVE with the idea of scrapping on my phone. In February 2015, I upgraded my phone to a Samsung Galaxy S5. I purchased the Android version of the Project Life app, but it mostly sat unused on my phone. In the last month, I joined an App Scrappers Facebook group and I have made 50scrapbook pages using the Project Life App. Most of these pages were made in the carpool line at school or at play rehearsals and soccer practices. This is time that I would normally just be wasting. At this time, I am only using Project Life cards inside the app. But, you CAN use your journal cards from your digital scrapbook stash with minimal work.

Other apps:

There are a lot of other apps that people are using to scrapbook on their phones & iPads. I haven’t used them, but Moldiv, Over and Pixel Lab seem to be the most common ones.

Gaping Holes in My Story:

I’ve talked about this already, but I have big chunks of our story that aren’t told. And they aren’t just holes in time, it’s holes in the content of our story. Just like everyone, we have had difficult times in our lives. There are still periods of time that are really difficult for me to go back and look at the photos. Last year I did a really good job of staying current with my scrapbooking, until June. We had to have our dog, Alfie, euthanized. The weeks before we took him to the appointment were extremely difficult. We made him a little bucket list of things we wanted him to experience in his final days. We took a ton of photos. I couldn’t look at them, let alone scrapbook them. I wanted Alfie’s story to be told right. I wanted his scrapbook pages to be worthy of him and the life he lived. I was really trying to scrapbook chronologically, so I could stay caught up, but I just couldn’t do it. So, I took a step back and I really focused on getting my 2013 pages finished.

Things I Learned:

A little bit of passing time and getting someone else’s perspective can make a big difference in having the desire to tell a story.

Look at it from a different perspective:

Sometimes it’s okay to walk away from a difficult subject matter to get some space and a clearer perspective. But if you stay away from it for too long, you lose some of the emotion and the details of the story. If you skip a period of time, periodically go back and look at the photos and see if you are in a good enough place about the situation to tell your story. 10 months after Alfie’s passing, I was finally in an okay enough place to tell his story. It was still difficult and I cried more than I didn’t, but the story of his passing is told.

Sometimes a photo just doesn’t have any meaning to me, but it means something to my husband or my kids. One night during dinner, show a photo to your family and ask them what they remember. Look at Facebook posts from your family members and see if they posted anything about that image or a related image. I regularly go through my Facebook page, my husband’s Facebook page and pages of other family members to see what they posted about events. I’ve found details that I would have forgotten.

What I’m going to do about it:

I’m going to tell my story, the whole true real story, as I remember it.

My Plan

As I said earlier, my 2013 photos are all scrapbooked now. I managed to get my 2016photos scrapped from January through July. With the help of the Project Life app, I am almost caught up with my 2017 album. My goal is to use the Project Life app to stay current with 2017, scrapping my bigger life moments in Photoshop so I still get my creative Photoshop fix. As I get caught up, I’ll go back and finish my 2016 album. I have just over 1,800 unscrapped photos remaining in 2016. I’ll be using the Project Life app for quite a few of these photos, too. I’m going to try to incorporate some of my digital scrapbook stash of journal cards, too.

Since I have already gathered most of my memorabilia from 2014 until now, I can scrapbook all of my photos from that point forward without doing much more organization work than I’ve already done. As soon as my 2016 album is finished, while staying current with my 2017 album, I’ll go back and start 2014, then 2015.

Be Realistic:

I was originally hoping to have all of 2014 – 2017 scrapbooked by the end of December 2017. I didn’t realize that I have more than 8,400 unscrapbooked photos from 2014 and 2015. There’s no way I can get 10,000 old photos plus current photos scrapbooked by the end of 2017. My adjusted goal is to stay current with 2017, finish 2016 and start 2014. I’m not going to get more specific than that with myself. I love scrapbooking and I don’t want
it to become a chore or a job.

How are you getting caught up? What tools are you using to help speed up your scrapbooking process?