Monday, June 19, 2017

Unclutter The Interlude: My Space Hogging Hobby

This week our assignment was to declutter the kids' rooms. Since mine are 16 and 19, other than moving the piano out of Emma's room and clearing her floor for someone to access her window to give us an estimate for a replacement, I didn't touch them. Instead, I stayed in the basement and confronted some demons. 

It makes me so sad.

I loved this hobby. I loved scrapbooking our lives almost more than the life I was scrapbooking. I remember I had layouts on the go all the time.

But no one ever looked at them.

the scrapbooks in the dining room

Except my Mom.

But I barely noticed this, or if I did, I didn't think it was important. They would look at them later, I thought, when they are older. I enjoyed making pages, anyway.

I had a goal to be published--and I pursued that for many years. I was published, actually, and I am quite proud of those layouts.

I think they are some of the last I ever did--except for Mom's Annual album. I stopped making that in 2014. Or was it 2015?

I had pretty much stopped taking photos of us altogether by then.

I am not sure why that happened. The problem with not keeping records, of course, is that you have no way of referencing the past.

I started working in the fall of 2013. Maybe that was it?

When you declutter, you essentially force yourself to deal with things you have ignored --either out of laziness, forgetfulness, or disinterest. Those things are easy to get rid of. But things you have been avoiding--as I have my scrapbooking--are much more difficult. I ask myself: why haven't I been scrapbooking all these years? Why did I quit?

I think there are lots of mundane reasons, like it's a messy cluttery hobby, it takes up a lot of space, you have to chase people down with a camera and teenagers don't appreciate that, it feels like an invasion of privacy once the kids reach a certain age, and whose story am I telling, anyway?

OK, so that last one is not mundane. But the real kicker for me was this: our family is, actually, boring. And since our last family trip --to the West Coast in 2014-- we haven't done anything as a family together (except for attending the first Star Wars re-boot movie.) We don't even eat dinner together. And it's been a crushing disappointment. That's what I've been avoiding.

The question is: what now?

Can I scrapbook? Can I accept the reality of our lives now, as well as how they have been? I mean, I do love each person in my family. I have a good relationship with each person. It is just that the four of us aren't a "family unit."

Here are some of my unscrapped photos, filed away in boxes:

On this wall in the basement are most of my tools and supplies (and more photos).

can you believe it? those plastic cases contain albums "in progress." 

Underneath this table are more supplies (paper, mostly):

yes, that's the toilet seat from the bathroom. It is in better shape than the one we have currently, we just can't figure out how to work the bolts properly. (We smashed the old toilet to release it). We haven't given up on it, though.

It is past time to let this all go. As much as I loved it, I don't see scrapbooking in my long-term future. But I'm not quite ready to let everything go. I think I have one more project that needs to be done.

Story albums.

Specifically, the Story of Ben, the Story of Emma, and the Story of Us. I'm thinking of 8 1/2 x 11 albums that begin with Chris and I getting married, then the birth of each child and carrying on until High School graduation. Ben's album will contain more pages about him and what he did as he was growing up, Emma's will have more of hers--and the "Us" album will be both albums in one (minus any duplicate pages, of course, like vacation, and holiday spreads.) To keep it simple, I feel each one should be more "photo album" than "scrapbook."

It seems daunting and exciting all at once. But if I died without doing it, I'd regret it.

I haven't decided exactly how I will do this. Handmade spreads seem exhausting, yet it's the tactile aspects of scrapping I've always enjoyed. I like the idea of creating a digital photobook....but I would have to scan in all the photos!! I have hundreds, if not thousands of physical photos. I have a few digital photos...but they have pretty much trickled down into nothing since 2013. That's a pretty big gap. I have some logistical issues to sort out, obviously.

I've given myself a year and a bit to complete it. Emma graduates high school in June of 2019. My Mom's birthday is July 27th. (She'll get a copy of the compilation album).

I am hoping this will be enough to satisfy my urge to create as I think we are truly done with decorating this house, at least! I'm looking forward to it.


Anonymous said...

This post tugs at my heart. Family is hard. And harder because of the love, sometimes? My kids are younger, so having the family dinner is easier (when my husband is home). But family outings, together, often do not happen (fussy toddler, tired mother). I think I need to try harder. Hugs. And your scrapbooking project sounds wonderful. And remember--it's the small memories, the love, that counts. Not the big vacations or "exciting" lifestyle. -Wilma

MMarie said...

Alana, once again your post resonates with me. I too love to scrapbook, with paper, for the fun of creating. I haven't scrapbooked regularly in over a year, maybe two and it kills me a tiny bit inside. My 11 year old son loves to look at the scrapbooks, and anytime I start to scrapbook, he is right there wanting to make his own pages...while this is sweet, it gets in my way and takes away the fun for me! (And I end up not making anything.) We have dinner together most nights but don't do tons of other events together, and if we do, I am never in the photos. And yet, I keep buying a few pieces of pretty paper when I see them. Then I purge and give things to my friend who has a day care center, for 2 year olds to scribble on! Hmmmm....I shouldn't buy anymore until I start to use what I have!
Your year long projects sound like a wonderful way to close the chapters of this stage of your family story. Blessings to you as you work on it...may it be very satisfying to your soul!

Anonymous said...

Life changes. For example, When you were scrapbooking you were not re-doing your house (or the amazing work you did on your mother's house). Kids grow up and out. Big casserole dishes are then too big for the two of us. The kids come back to visit. They often bring a family with them. Big dishes needed again! The house constantly needs to change to meet these new conditions. But the love is still there; the way we show it is just different. And our pleasures change--when we were children we had never even heard of "scrap booking"! It hadn't been invented.
AND TECHNOLOGY has changed our world so fast!!! For years my 76 year old sister has been showing me her family pictures on her digital camera. She doesn't even print. Now even That is passé!!!
I had an old fashioned scrapbook from my childhood; i used it to entertain my Dad when he got old and had dementia because it was also things from HIS past that we did together. That's the only time i used it so i finally threw it out and I'm doing fine. Ha.
Our world is many faceted--its a fascinating thing to explore--both the physical world and the world of the mind. God made all this for us to delve into, yet He, Himself, does not change--amazing and wonderful. we are blessed! And may you be blessed as you navigate these changing situations. Love, Linda

Anonymous said...

Alana, I just this minute heard this on the radio "iPhones and iPads have become the new photo album."!!!
(Of course, we can still have paper albums and enjoy paper and print, but it corroborated my point that technology changes often and fast.) Linda

Anonymous said...

I used to love to scrapbook. I think I still do, if I were to do it. I also let it go by the wayside. I hauled all my supplies out to the garage and put them on the garage sale table. Then I lugged them all back and put them back in the basement. I just can't part with it all right now. I've started doing digital scrapbooks using the photos I've downloaded from my camera and phone. I do a family yearbook each year only including the highlights of that year. I have paper scrapbooked a baby album for each of my kids (2) and one of my husband and I when we met, showers, and our homes. I also purchased over the years supplies to do an ancestor book using all the old photos I have, but I have scanned those and created a digital one that I love and that I can easily make copies of for family. I really don't see me returning to the paper scrapbooks as I enjoy making digital ones using Shutterfly. But I certainly can relate to your feelings of sadness at your family going their separate ways. I'd like to go back in time and do things differently...

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