My Best Friend's Baby
I Miss My Dad

on Getting Instead of Scrapbooking

This is my year, it seems, to be sick. I guess it's fair---I kept the sickies at bay for nearly the entire two years I was teaching (simply because I couldn't cope with planning lessons far enough in advance for a sub!), and now it's catching up to me. Just a cold, except for it's left me without a voice, which isn't a good thing as I have work to do that requires a voice! So, in an effort to keep my mind off being sick, I've been reorganizing my scrapbook room.

You know those scrapbook rooms you see in magazines, with walls painted something other than white, and gorgeous furniture that all matches, and beauty and function and Rubbermaid containers that actually match? Well, my room's nothing like that. The walls are white. My computer desk is made with a door set on two metal filing cabinets; my two tables give me lots of space but they don't rank very high in the "gorgeous" department. I do have this fairly amazing antique desk I inherited from my grandpa, but in this room, it only fits in the closet. So it's far from impressive. But It's functional. I've got a sort of organizational system that works for me. (Well, as much as an organizational system can work for a girl who really isn't bothered by a little bit of chaos.)

I didn't want to just put stuff away (although, the putting of stuff away was a job itself, two months' worth of the left-over bits of layouts and new stuff waiting to be filed away). I wanted to purge. To get rid of stuff that honestly, I know I'll never use again. So, all my ancient lettering templates (remember? The ones Pebbles used to sell? Man I loved those things. I used them all the time. And I bought they made) have been moved to the kids' scrapping/art supplies box. All magazines older than 2006 are being recycled (except for the ones with moi in them, of course, lol). I've got a box full of paper, stickers, and card stock that'll go to the kids' elementary classes once I'm finished. And I'm still not done yet.

As I've worked on cleaning out this room, I've been whispering angrily to myself (remember? no voice!). "Why'd you buy 22 different colors of pattern paper from Close To My Heart and then never use it?" "Why can't you bring yourself to part with your collection of Bryce and Madeline stickers when you know you'll never use them and they're just taking up valuable space?" "Ummm...why is it, Amy, when you've got a stack of 4"-tall blue card stock, you had to go and buy more? Just because it was on sale?"

I'm feeling this weird mix of emotions. Annoyed at myself for spending way too much money on stuff I never used. All of this makes an emotional temperature in the room that's nearly claustrophobic. Like something is getting buried underneath the mounds and piles. But there's also a creative anxiety---a sense of being full of ideas and excitement at using the stuff I am keeping. (Not the Bryce and Madeline stickers, though. That was always the problem: they were too cute to use!) It's something akin to how I feel in the scrapbook store. Nearly overwhelmed with wanting to buy everything so that I can use everything, but also hearing that "yeah, but" voice: "yeah, but will you ever use it?" As I wrap up this cleaning/reorganizing project, I'm reminding myself of an insight I had a few months ago. I've been meaning to write about this in my blog, and somehow, today's the day.

If you allow it to, scrapbooking can become not about the process of putting pictures with words and accents. It becomes all about getting. Getting the latest and greatest. Getting everything new and wonderful. Getting all the magazines. Getting published. Getting famous in the industry. Getting the cute stuff for organizing. Getting the awesome camera and amazing printer.

All this getting? It makes scrapbooking become something it's not. Or, at least, something it is not to me. I don't want to feel like my layouts only have value because they're covered in whatever was the it product at CHA. I want them to have value because they express something of myself as they preserve something of my subjects. But more than that, I think that being ruled by getting wrecks havoc on your creativity. It is like Wordsworth said: Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers. The focus on getting turns scrapbooking from something simple and fun and expressive to something commercial. And commercialism? It's the antithesis of creative power, in my opinion.

So, as I wrap up my room reorg, I'm more determined than ever to stay away from the scrapbooking store. To fall in love again with the stuff I used to love---the stuff I have now. To keep it about the process and the words and the pictures. And to save my creative powers from withering under the suffocation of getting.



Wow Amy, you are soooo right. I just power cleaned my scraproom yesterday (pics on my blog), and mine isn't so fancy either, although my walls are gold. lol. Anyway, It's so easy to get caught up in the stocking and organizing that I forget why I crop!! Great post! Thanks!

kelly edgerton

I agree with this theory. The getting can lead to things I don't need and places I really don't want my mind to go. GREAT INSIGHT!


I couldn't agree with you more regarding the SB supplies. I feel so overcome and consumed with guilt whenever I organize my room. The thousands of dollars in product - some of which will never see the light of day. I am going to remember your words and what sbing really is about. "Getting" to keep the memories.
Angie ~ Cupcake


Hi Amy,
I am just now reading this, and just now really understanding this idea. I just spent almost an hour writing about this very idea, and about how I want to start recording my memories, and pairing them with photos (when possible) and having the product come second to those two things. Of course, product can inspire memories too, but the focus should be on the stories themselves. Thanks for sharing this, as further confirmation.

Annette Kuusinen

I thought I was the only one with a stash of Bryce & Madeline stickers. Just recently I found a great use for them - my daughters lunch notes. I'll never use them on a layout, they aren't my style, but oh-so-cute! My girls love them and I am happy to finally use them.



Debbie S.

I couldn't agree more! Great post! I don't even scrap in my scrap room because it's an overwhelming mess of stuff I don't use. The stuff I do use could fit in quite a small space...I'm chipping away at getting rid of stuff, but it's tough work. Emotionally overwhelming...I should, I should, I should...

(btw, got here for the first time from Write.Click.Scrapbook...great post there too!)


Just came from WCS, and love this post. Love how you applied Wordsworth's quote to this issue. I need to write that quote on my wallet! Looking forward to this week's series.


HI Amy, You know I have felt some of the same things. There was SO much, I didn't know where to start! I get excited about a new paper, but then don't want to use and never do....I love local scrapbook store. I laughingly told them once that I don't even scrapbook, I just go there for the comaraderie. I just need to learn that I don't have to buy something every single time. thanks for validating this resolution!

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