Friday, March 22, 2013

getting back to scrapping: Becky Thompson

Time for another installment of inspiration from someone who took a break from scrapping and successfully got back to it! Enjoy!

Name: Becky Thompson
Hometown: Formerly from Boise, Idaho - now happily living near the beautiful Oregon Coast
Life Status: Married for 22 years to my husband Brad. We have 3 kids: Samantha (21), Adam (20) and Kristin (17)
When did you start scrapbooking? What motivated you to take up this hobby?
I'm a relative dinosaur in the scrapbooking world. I remember the days when we got excited to see colored paper! I actually made my very first scrapbook in the 3rd grade as a school project back in the 70's, and then made a couple more in high school of some family trips. I got serious in 1990 after seeing my then sister-in-law-to-be working on an album. I was hooked. I have always loved the idea of telling stories with photos - and I've been taking photos since I was old enough to hold a camera. I bought a few supplies and got started.

When did you stop scrapping and why?
I stopped scrapbooking in 2006. I worked in the industry for a very long time aside from doing my own personal books. A need for some downtime, moving to a new town, and some other major changes in my personal life including a return to the workforce put scrapbooking on the back burner. I just wasn't feeling it anymore, and I didn't know if I'd ever return at that point. I had no creativity left, and no desire.

Did you still think about it, shop for it, read about it and feel that you were a scrapbooker - just not an active one?
At first, I put a lot of distance between myself and scrapbooking. I quit frequenting message boards. I stopped subscribing to magazines. I didn't go to stores.

We actually had several yard sales in preparation for our upcoming move, and I sold a lot of my supplies then. I sold more in another sale after we got settled in our new town. I was happy to be paring down, but I didn't get rid of everything - I wasn't totally sure I was done forever at that point. I did, however, leave what I had kept pretty much untouched. I didn't shop because our budget didn't allow it at first, and then because I just didn't need anything. I couldn't justify it if I wasn't using it, and the fact was, my supplies collected a lot of dust for several years.

I wasn't sure anymore what scrapbooking meant to me. I don't know if I felt like a scrapbooker at all. I felt like I didn't fit in anymore with where it was going, and the stories I thought I wanted to tell no longer held my interest in the same way. There were a lot of sad stories in there - and I wasn't sure I wanted to tell them. So, I didn't. I continued to take lots of photographs - but I didn't do anything with them, either.

When did you start again and what made you decide to get back to it?
I tried starting again in 2008....I did some digital pages, and even went to a retreat with friends where I did manage to make some traditional layouts. But, to be honest, I still wasn't feeling it. Besides that, I was working full-time, and had recently returned to college to complete my education. Time was in very short supply, so not much got done, although I was beginning to think about it again. I missed having a creative outlet, I just wasn't sure scrapbooking was it anymore.

I really didn't get back into it (and even now I wouldn't say I am at the same level I was before as far as time involvement) in 2012, after we moved to Oregon. I sold more stuff and we moved into a 1200 square foot apartment so my husband could finish his education. I'm still working full time and life is still busy. So that really hasn't changed.

What did change is that I finally had enough time away that I began to remember what it was that I loved about memory keeping in the first place. It wasn't the stuff (after all, I'd gotten rid of nearly 80% of my supplies). It wasn't the industry, or the websites, or any of that. It was the simple act of telling our stories - happy, sad, whatever, that I loved. I let go of any outside expectations (real or imagined), pared down my supplies even more to just what I loved and would use, and just opened myself up to whatever happened.

That was the key for me - to just be open - and not pressure myself to make anything happen.

Was it hard to know where to start? Where did you start?
I actually started with organizing. As I said, we live in a small apartment, so space is at a premium. I have only my most used supplies out - everything else is either in storage waiting for a dedicated area again, or creatively stored in our apartment if it's something I use but not all the time. I needed to make a space that was flexible enough to allow me to play when I had time, but also one that works with our life.

From there, I actually didn't scrapbook at first. I have always wanted to try art journaling - so I started doing the Soul Journaling workshop that Sara Whitmire has on her website (it's free!) to learn some techniques and just play. I have fallen in love with art journaling - it gives me that creative yet really personal space to express the emotions that I don't necessarily want to preserve in my family albums. It has been a big part of processing some of the big changes in our life over the last few years - and I think it's actually freed me up to be a better scrapbooker.

I now do a variety of layouts - traditional and digital. I actually did Project Life for the first time last year. I do a monthly layout instead of daily or weekly pages - it works better for my life and time constraints. I'm doing the digital version - and I have used it to "catch up" with stories since 2006 when I stopped scrapbooking by completing an album of monthly summary pages for each year since then. I'm currently on 2011 and am also doing it for 2013. I find that I'm using traditional scrapbooking now to tell the more detailed stories, while Project Life allows me to cover events and the overall picture of our life in a quick and easy way.

What changes and trends in scrapping have you noticed since you've been back?
In some's been a case of "the more things change, the more they stay the same". Lots of things I see now are new twists on old products/trends. Some of the industry faces are the same, others are new. As far as layouts themselves - there does seem to be more product on pages and less journaling - it's not really my style, but this would be a very boring hobby if we all did things exactly alike! I'm very much a live-and-let-live scrapbooker.

One of the definite changes I've noticed is the advent of the digital industry, both in terms of supplies and online educational opportunities. The online store has eclipsed, for the most part, the LSS. Online education was just beginning when I stopped scrapbooking - and now it's everywhere. Not too surprising, though, given our world and technology as a whole. I taught a couple of classes at what is now Big Picture Classes in its infancy - it's amazing to see how that whole area has just grown, and online classes are everywhere. I think that's great - especially for busy people who want to be able to access things quickly.

Are you most inspired by 1) product, 2) photos or 3) a story to tell?
It's always been photos first for me, and then story. I like pretty products - but they're just a tool to accomplish the goal of showcasing photos and telling the stories as far as I'm concerned.

Layout by Becky Thompson

Where do you scrapbook?
It depends. If I'm digital scrapbooking, I can usually be found in my favorite chair or curled up on the couch with my laptop and external hard drives.

If I'm traditionally scrapbooking, I have a small desk from Ikea and a hutch in my dining area that houses my supplies and serves as my scrapbook area. It's small, but it works for now. Thankfully I have a very supportive family who doesn't mind when I take over the dining area!

When do you have a chance to scrap? How do you work it in your schedule?
With my work schedule, I usually only have time on the weekend to get anything done. I'm pretty fluid about it, though - if I'm not feeling it, I don't scrapbook. Lately I've been putting in a lot of overtime at work, so not much has happened in the way of creative time. Normally I scrapbook on Friday and Saturday evenings while my husband is at work. During the week, I might check out message boards or browse galleries in the evening if I have time. I'm pretty laid back about it, and I don't beat myself up if something doesn't happen that week.

Are you buying new products or using what you have?
Both, although I don't buy much in the way of new traditional supplies anymore. I'm very selective about what I bring in. Space is a premium, and really, I know what I like - so if something doesn't fit with that, I won't buy it. I also prefer at this point to focus on multi-use items such as stamps that I know I can use over and over again. I have added a few trendy items here and there, but mostly I stick with what I already own. I have plenty to keep me busy for a long time.

I do tend to buy more digital products - the price point is within my budget, the space issue isn't a problem, and I can use them over and over. I've also started playing with designing a few of my own digital supplies to use. Occasionally I will print out a digital supply and use it on a traditional page, but not often.

Do you plan to purge your stash at all since trends have changed?
No. I've already pared down my stash to what I know and love. I've never been a big trend-follower, so that has never been a motivation to get rid of supplies. If I love it and will use it, I'll keep it - whether it's from this year, or from 1990. I often pull out older supplies to make new pages. The people who look at my pages have no idea when a product was made, and frankly, they don't care about that, either. They care about the photos and the words.

What do you see as your biggest challenge now and how do you plan to overcome it?
Definitely still finding the time is the biggest challenge. As far as overcoming it - I really can't, at least not until I'm no longer working full-time. For now, I just try to make the most of the moments I have to spend doing something creative, and go from there. I know that right now my schedule is temporary - and once that changes, so will my scrapbooking time. It's all about balance and keeping perspective.

What’s something on your scrappy to-do list?
Finish my Project Life catch-up albums, definitely. After that, I'd like to make a few more traditional pages, and maybe take an art journaling class.

Give us some advice to encourage someone who wants to get back to documenting their stories but feels overwhelmed!
Let go of feeling overwhelmed! One thing I have realized about scrapbooking is that if it's overwhelming, you're approaching it wrong. It's supposed to be fun, whether you are someone who wants to do it because you love to play with pretty papers and supplies, or because you are inspired by telling your stories with words and photos.

If you just can't face trying to make a page first - try something else. I found that by pursuing something else I wanted to try like art journaling, I was inspired again. It was completely outside of my comfort zone, and the polar opposite of how I scrapbook. But it was (and still is) a "safe" place for me - I can make messes and experiment and not worry about it. Find something like that and let scrapbooking evolve naturally.

Finally, just have fun with it. We spend so much of our lives in comparison mode - we compare our successes, our failures, our lives, our bodies...we compare it all to other people. 9 out of 10 times, we come away feeling worse. Don't compare yourself and your scrapbooks/stories to anyone else. It will suck the joy out of it faster than anything else you can do. This is supposed to be fun. Refuse to let anything get in the way of that, and definitely don't put obstacles in your path that don't need to be there.

Thanks for sharing Becky!!! That was awesome!!!!


msmith434343 said...

Becky! So good to hear from you :) We used to be on a small board together. I stopped for several years as well, but having fun back at it - gorgeous layout! Love the colors - yum!

Fleursbydesign said...

Love the fall layout, I have been scrapping since 1999 and have taken a few small breaks here and there but I really just love paper crafting too much to stop for good :)

Lisa Moorefield said...

Love this! I especially like "if it's overwhelming, you're approaching it wrong." SO TRUE!