This is a guest post from Meg of Marmalade Mementos
Stop me when any of this starts to sound familiar:
You’ve casually browsed the scrapbook aisles at a local craft store and thought “I’d love to create a beautiful record of our lives, but _______ [fill in excuse here].” Or maybe you’ve caught a glimpse of some expert art journalers’ works of art on Pinterest and thought “I could never do that, I don’t have enough ______ [insert resource or personality trait here].” Maybe when you hear the word scrapbooking, an image of a certain kind of person comes to your mind… and that person is the complete opposite of who you think you are or want to be. So you’ve come to the conclusion that memory keeping is probably just not for you. If any of this sounds like you, allow me a few minutes of your time to try to change your perception!
Curious or skeptical about whether you could make memory keeping work for you? Here’s a quick little quiz to determine if you’re the type of person that could become a memory keeper:
- Are you a human?
- Do you have people, places, objects, or activities you love?
- Do you have any positive or negative memories of anything that’s happened in your life, ever?
If you answered yes to all of the above, then surprise! Memory keeping is perfect for you! Still not convinced? Here are 5 memory keeping myths that may still be holding you back… and ideas to help you bust them!
Myth #1: Memory keeping is only for certain kinds of people.
Maybe you have the perception that memory keepers are all mothers with young children. Or that all scrapbookers are “crazy cat-ladies” or empty-nest grandmothers. Or that only people with extensive travel histories under their belts have stories worth documenting. Maybe you’re a single person without children who has only been on one vacation since you were a child, and you think you don’t have much going on in your life that’s worth documenting. As someone who has been following memory keeping bloggers for years, I can assure you there are people from all walks of life who are documenting their stories for many different reasons. (Keep in mind, there’s more to memory keeping than just scrapbooking! More on that in just a bit!) See if one of these awesome memory keepers might spark your interest based on your specific life situation:
- Single woman, no children? Check out Tracy’s blog, The Single Girl’s Scrapbook.
- Committed relationship, but no children (or only fur-babies)? Caylee’s and Olya‘s blogs may provide some idea (*cough* and hopefully mine! *cough*).
- Into social justice issues and activism for causes you believe in? Kristin’s and Megan’s blogs might be up your alley.
- Raising a family? Andrea, Rachel, and Aaron might spark your interest.
- Spend lots of time with your grandbabies? Donna’s pages are sure to inspire!
- Love traveling or going on local adventures? Kelly and Kam are a great resource!
- Voracious reader? Kristin is too!
Myth #2: Memory keeping is reserved for big events and happy memories only.
Think of your life as if it were a newspaper. A whole newspaper, not just the front page. Sure, there are the big headlines, the most important things, the things the reader should be drawn to first (what is referred to in the publication world as “above-the-fold” content). By all means, document those big memories (the holiday gatherings, the anniversary trip to Italy, the birth of your sister’s first child). But remember that a newspaper tells a whole lot more than just the headline stories that fit on the top half of the first page. There are also sections for:
- Letters to the editor (try including that letter you got from Grandma on your birthday last year or documenting a screenshot of a memorable text conversation with a loved one).
- Movie reviews (include a list of the last 5 movies you’ve gone to see in the theater; interview the friends and family you went with about their thoughts on each movie!)
- Local events (did you take a trip to your community’s newly-opened farmer’s market? Could you share a story about how this new resource will affect your family’s eating habits in the future?)
- Obituaries (yes, it can be painful, but documenting the loss of a loved one or even a popular public figure can be a part of the healing process, and the sad moments are every bit as much a part of your story as the celebrations).
- And many more…
Think of your life in an overall-big-picture kind of way, imagining the things you’d like future generations to know about you, your family, or what life in this century was like. Some of the details you might consider mundane now (your favorite musicians, where you buy your groceries, what method of travel you use to get to work) might someday be fascinating to someone from a different era, when things will no longer be the way they are now. What are some things you would love to have been able to learn about your great-great-grandfather? Document some of those same things about your own life. You may be grateful as you get older to have these details to reminisce over (or to help you retain or regain your memories in the unfortunate event that you may someday suffer from Alzheimer’s, amnesia, or other neurological difficulties), as well as to pass these stories on to your children, nieces and nephews, or community.
Myth #3: You have to be crafty or artistic to be a memory keeper.
Nope. False. Remember when I said above that there’s more to memory keeping than just scrapbooking? It’s true! If you’re doing something that you’ll be able to look back on at some point in the future that will help you remember a moment, a thought, a special person, or a feeling, you’re memory keeping! Writing in a journal, making lists of your favorite things, participating in various photo prompt challenges, even posting on social media… all of these are forms of memory keeping. You don’t need to have an eye for design to jot down a special memory you’d like to preserve for yourself or your family in the future. Likewise, if you feel like you don’t really have a way with words, a photograph with a short-and-sweet caption might be more your style. If you’d love to start documenting your life but aren’t sure where to start, you’re in luck because the internet has countless resources to give you a starting point.
If you think you’d prefer to use words to tell your story, head over and download Kristin’s free Currently list card, which you can fill out as often or as infrequently as you’d like in order to capture what is happening in your life at a given moment. Want to go into more detail with your storytelling, but can’t think of any specific stories to tell? My journal prompt collection has over 400 prompts to get you started, with fill in the blank questions like “When I hear the word adventure, I feel…” as well as list prompts like “Last 5 people I’ve hugged.” You can also check out the 30 Days of Lists challenge, which typically runs in March and September (sometimes also in December), where you can share your responses to 30 different list prompts with a community of other life-documentors. Prefer to focus on the photos rather than the words? Check out Capture Your 365 for a daily idea of something to photograph. Fat Mum Slim’s photo-a-day challenge provides a similar resource. Check out the hashtags #cy365 or #fmsphotoaday on Instagram to see how others are participating in these challenges!
Myth #4: You have to have a good camera or there’s no point in memory keeping.
Friends? There are SO. MANY. MEMORY KEEPERS. who use only their phone to capture photos. Personally, my camera is at least 8 years old, is far from fancy, and rarely sees the light of day. I use my iPhone for everything. That being said, even if you don’t have a phone with a camera, there are no rules about the level of photography quality required in order to be a memory keeper. Repeat after me: There are no memory keeping police. There’s a quote (that I believe is attributed to this iPhone photography book by Chase Jarvis, though I’m not sure if he was the first to actually say it) that says “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” Take this to heart, folks. Sure, good pictures are better than bad pictures, but bad pictures are better than no pictures. And even if you have no access to a camera at all, you can still be a memory keeper without ever taking a single photograph. (See myth #3 again in case you’ve forgotten!) Even scrapbookers sometimes create photo-less pages. Check out this great post from SuzyQScraps for some examples!
Myth #5: Memory keeping is expensive.
There is some truth behind this myth. Memory keeping CAN be expensive. But it doesn’t have to be. If you have access to a piece of paper and a writing utensil, you have all you technically need to document your memories. From there, it can be as affordable or as expensive as you choose to let it become. It can be easy to fall down the rabbit hole in a scrapbook aisle and walk away having spent enough money to empty your bank account. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, fall down a different rabbit hole on Pinterest, search for “free scrapbook printables,” and come away with more freebies than you could ever know what to do with!
Print them at home, save them on a flash drive and take them to your local print shop, or even just use them to document your memories digitally using an image editing software program. If you have a little bit of spending money to spare, by all means, have some fun buying a new art journal, some letter stickers, some pretty paper, or a new camera. But know that all of this is optional. You don’t have to keep up with the Joneses in the memory keeping world, because you’re documenting YOUR life, not theirs! When Anne Frank was writing in her diary, I highly doubt she was worried that the events she was recording on paper weren’t surrounded by enough glittery stickers and flower embellishments. Remember, it’s the stories and the memories that matter most, not the way you choose to record them.
So, what do you think? Have you been convinced that maybe memory keeping is a better fit for you than you originally thought? Do you still have some skepticism, or questions about how to tackle a roadblock that’s keeping you from documenting your stories? Let’s talk about it in the comments! Want to check out how I document the everyday moments that make up life as a whole? Take a look at my Project Life page gallery!
Meg Woolston is a memory keeper, wanna-be world traveler, and pint-sized semi-nerd who blogs at Marmalade Mementos. Although a Michigander at heart, she currently lives in Washington D.C. with her husband where she works a day job in the nonprofit industry, but her true passion is helping others preserve their sweetest memories. Follow Meg on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, or check out her digital and printable scrapbook shop.
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