Some more Project Life advice…..

I am a bit behind on putting my tutorial video together for this week, so I thought in lieu of not posting at all I would add my own advice as an add-on to the great stuff I just read over on Becky’s Blog. Here are my two cents on Project Life for those just beginning and for those just beginning to think about it.

First, a little history. I can honestly say that I have always loved taking pictures and the box of old diaries under my bed (and the blog entries on my hard drive) attest to the fact that I have always loved to write. So you could say that I pretty much have always been a keeper of memories…but not really a scrapbooker. That changed around 2001 when I discovered scrapbooking and I loved the hobby from the start because it was the perfect marriage of these two passions. But time wasn’t always on my side, nor my constant struggle with perfectionism, so save participation in December Daily for the past four years actual 12×12 layouts were few and far between. I tell you all this because I am just a regular person who wanted to start writing things down her kids said and did. I don’t have a scrapbooking product line, I never had design training, I only fit into one pair of jeans in my closet, and I have no idea where the stains on my shirt came from. I know (from my own personal experience) that it can be intimidating looking at all of the inspiration out there and think you couldn’t do it…because you don’t have a,b, or c. Or you think you are not creative. Scrapbooking and memory keeping were things I always wanted to do…but couldn’t figure out how to do, or finish.

But at present day? It’s all I want to do! And I know this has everything to do with discovering Project Life. My only regret is that I waited until January of 2012 to begin. (I watched Ali Edwards do it throughout 2011, and almost began that July, but decided to wait so my book would start in January. See? Told you–perfectionism issues.) Knowing what I know now? AH! I just kick myself for that!!

I do my best to stay current mainly because if I don’t, I forget a lot. There are several things that help me do this:

  1. I keep my cameras (both my DSLR and my point and shoot) on the piano in the living room. Clutter drives me nuts, but I overlook these items laying out because they need to be accessible if I am going to have photos at the end of the week. My phone is always with me, and it contributes a lot to my album. Learning to embrace the iphone and it’s capabilities allows me to capture moments I might otherwise miss. My phone is always with me, my cameras however are not. Use and love your phone for sure!
  2. I developed a note keeping system/place to write things down. Some people use apps, some people use the notepad on their phones, some use good old-fashioned pen and paper, and some even send emails to themselves.  I use a combination of all of the above to be honest! Anything you can do to help you remember is awesome.
  3. Know yourself. I talked a lot about this in my “thoughts mid year” post last summer, and all of it still rings true now. I know that setting aside specific time would never work for me–I have to take it while I can. I know that I love to use this project for my creative outlet so I mix it up almost every single week with another kit–but I also know that as soon as life gets crazy I have my chosen PL kit (this year it’s Seafoam) to fall back on.  I was at Archiver’s today buying journaling pens and had to focus so hard it’s embarrassing to NOT buy the cute things I saw there–I know that being digital is all that this season of my life will allow.
  4. I created a deadline or commitment. I really enjoyed posting my layouts on pinterest and at The Mom Creative every week all year long. Not only did I find great inspiration at both places, I also got to “know” people from all over the world. It’s just as amazing to me to watch other people’s children grow before my eyes as it is my own.
  5. I started putting “constants” on my page. It helped fill up space, and it took the pressure off to have so many photos. I try to incorporate a week in review card and a title card almost always. (This didn’t always happen in 2012, and is the one and only thing I wish I had done then, but will do differently now.)

Remember, truly, that it is whatever you want it to be. I had a week last year that I didn’t take any pictures. ZERO. Did it trip me up? Not for a second. I remembered I had a great template to use and created a full text layout of Week 42. Some weeks almost every picture is of the same day. Some weeks it nearly is a photo a day. Some weeks I use lots of filler cards because I just don’t have enough photos, it seriously is all good. When I look at what I have done these past 55 weeks my smile is just as big, no matter what type of page I am viewing. If nothing else, remember that.

Last night after the girls had gone to bed my husband and I sat on the sofa together looking at some recent photos. Before I knew it we were on my blog and he started viewing my layouts online (Shutterfly book STILL is in route and he doesn’t always see them each week). I can’t tell you how amazing it was to look at it together and smile, laugh, and yes…tear up. (Me of course, not him.) I can say without hesitation that this is the best thing I have ever started and I have no idea if I will ever stop.

Honestly I cannot even imagine my life now not doing it.




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  • Sandy - Heather, I’m so glad you posted this today. Again, I’m 4 weeks into to doing this project for the first time and that perfectionism hits on occasion. I’m glad to see that I’ve thought of doing a few things you already do, but its good to know that there others doing this project with not always having enough pictures to work with. Your week 42 layout was perfect and so inspirational. It truly does all work. I feel like I can let go alot of the pressure by reading this (although I know I will pile it on myself anyway at some point 😉

    Thank you again for sharing!!ReplyCancel

    • admin - I hear you sister, boy do I hear you! It’s something I struggle with all of the time–but truly, when I look back at what I did this past year, I am amazed that not for one second do I judge how creative the page was. I might get caught up in that from time to time weekly…but when it was all together before my eyes–I was just absolutely amazed at what our life looked like AND proud of myself for providing this for my family. I just updated the post, so I don’t know if you saw the sentence I just added, so if not I will post it here again–My smile is just as big when I look at a week with filler cards as it is with a week with 20 photos. I didn’t even realize that until I started writing out this post, and I am so glad I had this “aha moment.” I think it will help me keep it all in perspective, and I think if you look back at what you’ve done so far this year you will realize the same thing…I think everyone will!!!ReplyCancel

  • Barb - Heather – Thanks for your post today. I have been doing Project Life for 4 years now and can’t imagine a year without it! I am not a creative person so this format was perfect for me. It makes my albums look like I am a creative person! I don’t have children at home any longer and don’t have grandchildren yet – so there are definitely times when I don’t have many photos for the week. This year, because of that issue, I decided to pick a theme for the week and go with it! This week for instance I used the Presidential Inauguration. This allows me to take photos from the TV (which turned out awesome by the way), talk about how much freedom means to me, talk about the first lady’s bangs!, etc. This is life as it is right now and when our grandchildren or great grandchildren look back they will be interested in our everyday stuff just as much as the big things in our lives. I know I long to know more about my grandmother’s who are no longer with us – but will never know their favorite color, the items they used daily, etc.
    I can’t say enough about Project Life and thank you for sharing your pages with us. You are extremely talented and I am looking forward to learning many things from you!ReplyCancel

    • admin - So many things to say about this comment–one, your theme idea for the week is briliant. I would have LOVED to have had something like this of my grandmother’s. I think what you are doing is wonderful and it WILL be cherished. You totally get it, the focus on the everyday stuff is what we all will want years from now. I am just putting together my daughter’s baby book, she is five, and I am astounded–so astounded–that I have NO photos of me pregnant…save the day of my baby shower. No pictures of me shopping, no pictures of me eating any of the cravings I remember….I am so different now. I really do feel like, since I have found Project Life, I am living life with my eyes open.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - Love this posting – it speaks to me I can totally relate to being a photo taker and journal keeper… a memory keeper and having perfection get in the way of really being any kind of scrapbooker.
    Thanks for the tips. Love your work again.ReplyCancel

  • Lynn L. - I have done Project Life for 4 years now and still love it! Such a great way to capture memories and the stuff I really want to remember. Thanks for sharing your pages, thoughts, and tips about doing the project. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Amber - I just started project life this year. The past three years I have done a yearly photobook with monthly layouts but daily journaling. I decided PL was a better format for me and so far I am loving it. I email my weekly layouts to my husband and he loves it. He even send me texts with funny things the kids said to add to my daily journaling. I love how he is involved in this project. Your pages are amazing and a great inspiration. Thank you for this post beacause I can easily get caught up in the cuteness instead of the stories.ReplyCancel

  • Amy O'H. - Great tips! Your fifth tip is great and one I fight- also feeling I have to get as many photos in as possible.

    I have noticed that you have a lot of indoor shots capturing everyday life. I would love to hear any tips on lighting and camera settings and if you are using a flash. It takes me forever to get good indoor shot because I am constantly tweaking my settings and my bounce flash (which doesn’t really work in our family room since it has a vaulted ceiling).

    Thanks for sharing!!ReplyCancel

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