Three things I wish I knew when I started memory keeping

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” -Phillip Pullman

If you feel guilty about not preserving your memories because you think you can’t or don’t know how, you’re not alone. Scrapbooking is a beautiful hobby that lead me to what I do today: documenting life and preserving memories. (Un)fortunately, I don’t scrapbook anymore, but I do preserve my stories in a simple, beautiful and tangible way that has nothing to do with stickers, stamps, or pretty paper. With time I learned that the only thing I need are the stories themselves and willingness to tell them.

This is a screenshot of the iPad app (Affinity Photo) I now use for my memory keeping and my January 2019 completed pages.

And if I had known these three things from the beginning, I would have told more stories and saved a lot of money from the tools and products I purchased and never used:

  • Memory keeping is NOT just scrapbooking– Through the years I’ve learned to see memory keeping and scrapbooking as two separate things that could be together at some point of the journey. Knowing that memory keeping can exist without scrapbooking has helped me greately to document my life stories in a more consistent way.
  • I don’t need to buy things or have creative skills to be a memory keeper– Decorating or embellishing around a photo to document life is not the only option out there to preserve my life story and memories; sometimes I just may need a photo and the desire to say whatever was happening there. There are many ways to document my life story besides scrapbooking. There are physical and digital options for everyone, for all preferences, interests and skill levels: blogging, keeping a journal, social media, photobooks, doodling your day/week… Many people decide not to preserve their memories because they feel overwhelmed about all the scrapbooking products and techniques available. And sometimes, something as simple as keeping a handwritten/digital journal or a photobook app/software (that often organizes my your photos automatically) is enough to tell and preserve the story of my life.
  • Stories are what matter the most in the end– Sometimes, a perfectly embellished scrapbook page may not say a thing about the story. When I look back to my first scrapbook pages I feel frustrated because it’s just a photo with a bunch of stickers and pretty papers and I can’t remember the details of what was happening there, how I felt that day or how life was. Experiencing that feeling is what made me focus more on the stories rather than in the creative process. Now that I focus on words and photos over the creative process, I am confident that my story is getting told and preserved. I am happy that I can look back, two weeks or two years, and get a more detailed and specific picture of how life was at cerain point of my life.

For most people it’s easy to keep a balance doing both scrapbooking and actually telling their stories. I just go crazy with all the creative methods and products available. And I didn’t want this to stop me; leaving scrapbooking as my main memory keeping method was a very personal and particular decision based on my own experience.

Being a creative person, scrapbooking was a great opportunity to combine two things I loved but, honestly, for some reason it was creating on me a pressure that wasn’t helping to get it done. Letting go off that pressure has been the best thing that has happened to me. Now I am getting my stories told regularly and also learning new ways to address my creative needs such as doodling and watercolor painitng.

I don’t mean to discourage scrapbooking, I would love to encourage those people who want to preserve their stories but are afraid and overwhelmed by the creative process like happened to me. The story is what you’ll want to read and enjoy ten or fifty years from now, no matter if it is written on a blank page or in a beautifully embelished layout. My advice would be to ask yourself why are you doing it and find a way that works for you keeping in mind that it doesn’t have to be complicated and that it doesn’t have to look like everybody else’s.

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