Memories

“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.” ― L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl

Have you ever had someone say something, ask something or do something that has suddenly catapulted you into an epiphany?  Suddenly everything makes sense.

I was talking to someone at work a few weeks ago about passions. Very few people actually make a living following their passion, and if you do, you’re damn lucky. One of my colleagues has a passion for health and fitness, and he’s starting a part-time business he does outside of work hours. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day it ends up being his primary source of income. It’s funny, because he didn’t have to tell me that it was his passion, even after only working with him for a few months, it was obvious. Some people’s passions are like that. Others run quiet, I guess. Like mine.

One of my colleagues said that often the reason we didn’t follow our passion was a weak excuse. Like, we just let life get in the way. We didn’t fight hard enough for it. That may well be true. I said that my passion wasn’t really something that earned a lot of money, and that of course triggered the obvious question – what is mine?

I actually had to think about it. I enjoy writing. I enjoy photography. I enjoy family history. I enjoy scrapbooking, journalling, blogging, etc. I have a million projects on the go at any one time. It still amuses me to remember that a friend on Writing.com once told me I needed to get a hobby. I have way too many. Well, maybe not hobbies, but projects. I definitely have too many projects. But which of these is my passion? Well, all of them. Because they all have something in common, and I hadn’t realised it until this question catapulted me into this epiphany.

My passion is preserving memories.

All my projects are about preserving memories. Blogging is about preserving memories. Scrapbooking is about preserving memories. Photography is about preserving memories. Family history is about preserving memories. I’m obsessed with preserving memories.

When people ask what my ultimate fear is, I usually answer that it is losing a loved one. This isn’t a cop out, this is genuinely my biggest fear. But putting aside that obvious (and unoriginal) answer, I have to confess that one of my greatest fears is leaving my projects unfinished. I hate the idea that the memories will be lost because I didn’t get a chance to complete the project.

There is definitely a part of me that wants to leave very clear instructions on how to complete my projects so that they’ll never been left unfinished, whatever happens to me. Is that weird? Am I totally nuts? I can’t see my husband ever completing them for me. Maybe my little sister would, but she’s got kids and a life on the other side of the ocean, she doesn’t have time for my projects. Maybe my daughter would one day. *shrugs* Maybe I should stop procrastinating and finish them myself!  After all, they’re my passion, right?

Smashbooking or scrapbooking?

So, Elycia on Writing.com introduced me to something called smashbooking.

Although smashbooking is a new term, it’s hardly a new concept. It basically describes the journals I kept in 1999-2000.

Although there doesn’t appear to be a definitive definition online, smashbooking is pretty much informal scrapbooking. It’s taking a journal and not just writing in it, but also pasting bits of pieces of paper and memorabilia in it. Whereas scrapbooks tend to be organised and neat, with a focus on the layout and craftmanship, smashbooks glory in randomness.

I started with boring journals. Just pages of text. I have a tendency towards perfection that I struggle with in my journals. You can see in my early journals that I tried to always write the date the same way, I would never go off the lines or doodle. Very uniform and neat. And boring.

I basically mimicked Chelsea’s style until I developed one of my own. Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s the same thing I did with poetry. Then I went flatting with Chelsea, and her journals were a riot of colour and craziness that I envied. I mean seriously envied. It was clear to me that my neat, boring journals and her colourful, creative journals were metaphors for our lives and personalities. I was the boring one. She was the fun one.

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Pages from my journal, circa 1999

My creative journalling style is not quite the same as Chelsea’s. I don’t think anyway, it’s been years since I saw any of her journals. I can never quite let go of my perfectionism, so it’s more like carefully considered randomness.

Blogging has been more convenient for me since I had kids, but I could never bring myself to throw out all the little scraps of memorabilia that I would previously have journalled. Birthday and Christmas cards, letters and postcards, tickets to events, etc. I kept them all.

I tried scrapbooking, and loved it. It suited my perfectionist tendencies, and allowed me to combine writing, memorabilia and photos. Pretty much my ideal medium. Except… Yeah, except it is expensive, and takes way too much time and space.

I truly believe that to do scrapbooking successfully, you need a craft room. That way you’re not constantly having to pack everything away again every time. I spent more time setting up and packing up than I actually did scrapbooking. And it IS expensive. I loved it, but it just wasn’t practical for me.

Digital scrapbooking is much cheaper (there are so many freebies on the net) and takes up no space, makes no mess. So that’s awesome.

But I still ended up with all these scraps of paper I couldn’t bring myself to throw out.

So I’ve gone back to smashbooking. Except, of course, I’ve always called it journalling.

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A page from my 2017 journal (aka smashbook)

I’m in the process of sorting out all those scraps of paper I’ve saved over the years. First step is to sort them into years. Literally, I have bits and pieces dating from 2001-2017. It’s very clear when I stopped journalling and the bits of papers starting piling up. Ha ha!

Because I have kept a blog, which has my own journalling, my poetry, my stories (although my stories are too long to go in a journal) and even quotes and things, I have the writing side of things to go with the memorabilia. So I’ve bought some more blank journals and I’m going to backdate my journals. I know, that’s a fucking mammoth project. Trust me, I know. I’m already behind on 2017, how the fuck am I going to catch up with sixteen years of journalling?! It makes me want to cry just thinking about it! It’s not like I needed yet another mammoth project. Seriously, for someone with so little time, I have so many projects on the go. It’s ridiculous. The one thing I don’t really have is many photos. My old journals never contained many photos, but my scrapbook pages centered around them. Hmm, maybe one day I’ll find the balance.

I did think about creating digital books, and somehow incorporating the memorabilia into them. That idea appeals to me. Partly because there’s not screeds of handwriting for me to do. Ha ha! But I just can’t figure out how to make it work.

Caitie saw some of my early journals when we were sorting my memorabilia, and she decided to keep her own journal too. Like me, she is seriously struggling with letting go of perfectionist tendencies. It’s hard for her to accept that the page doesn’t have to be perfect, that it’s okay to make mistakes. I think it’s good for her, but I have a lot of empathy for her, because it’s something I’ve dealt with numerous times. Journalling, poetry, etc. It’s hard to accept that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Sometimes it takes looking back at it to appreciate the beauty of the imperfections.