One of my all-time favorite scrapbooking projects that I have done was actually shown to me by its creator, Cathy Zielske. The year was 2006 and Cathy and I were both teaching classes at CKU (Creating Keepsakes University). Cathy’s class was called “Encyclopedia of My Ordinary Life” and was inspired by the book with the same title. Even though I was teaching my own classes at the same time, Cathy’s project intrigued me. The idea was that you would take each letter of the alphabet and write two different journaling segments that started with each letter. Paired with a photo that represented each segment, the album showcased different snapshots of your life through these random journal entries.
The project itself was simple – with each page’s format the same as she devoted one page to each letter of the alphabet. The hard part about this project was the writing. There was so much of it. Story after story, paragraph after paragraph, thought after thought about different, random aspects of your life was the meat of it all and the primary focus of this project. The photos were almost an afterthought, giving way to the words and thoughts you had instead.
It was a daunting task to decide to tackle all of that journaling during a busy time in my life but I just couldn’t get the idea out of my head. I really wanted to do this project and it seemed like it was all I could think about. Since I would be teaching classes myself I had to do this project on my own. After talking with Cathy about how the album was put together I sat down with a notepad and listed each letter of the alphabet down the margin, leaving two spaces for each letter. I then began to fill in the blanks with titles of stories and thoughts that I wanted to write about.
I carried this notepad around with me and as new ideas came to me I would find a place for each one on my list. As I continued, sometimes I would change the title of one thought in order to move it to another letter, leaving room for something better in its place. Then I started to write the actual journaling segments. Some were long. Some were short. Some were serious. Some were funny. Some were life-changing and others were seemingly insignificant memories that are a part of who I am.
I became obsessed. I couldn’t help myself. I just kept writing and writing and writing. I would be doing my hair in the morning or watching television or folding the laundry when a story would come to me and I would grab my notepad and start writing. Page after page of journaling began to accumulate in my notepad until I had 52 memories written – two segments per letter of the alphabet.
Then, of course, I gathered the photos for each segment and scrapbooked the album itself. What I ended up with is the most amazing compilation of my life that I have ever created. The simple thoughts, the huge memories, the empowering moments and even some tragic trials. A variety of topics that create a tapestry of who I am, what I think about, what’s important to me and where I am headed. It is truly an encyclopedia of my ordinary – yet, oh so extraordinary – life.
Thank you, Cathy, for developing this project and now offering it through Big Picture Scrapbooking. It’s a new look but the same idea and is called “Me: the Abridged Version.” I can’t wait for a whole new batch of scrapbookers to experience the journey that compiling this project will become for them. The format of the project is very simple so even if you have never done a scrapbooking project in your life, consider this being the first one. Let Cathy guide you on a fun but meaningful quest to record your life. Take the challenge. Sign up now and dedicate yourself to writing about your life. You won’t be sorry that you did.
And just to make it even more enticing, I am actually giving away a seat in Cathy’s upcoming workshop so you have the chance to learn how to do this album from Cathy for free! To win, write a comment here about what one of your journal entries would be called and a quick phrase of what it would be about. See, I’m getting you started already!
Take this class and experience the journey that Cathy has in store for you. I hope you love this project as much as I do and that you find parts of yourself that you didn’t even realize were in you. This may be patterned after the book “An Encyclopedia of My Ordinary Life” but once you finish you’ll find that it is anything but ordinary – rather extraordinary instead.