Write Now!

Next Thursday, on August 4, my Big Picture Classes workshop, Write Now!, starts up again. This class is perhaps my favorite class I teach at Big Picture, and here's why:

I think all scrapbook layouts deserve some journaling. That isn't an altogether popular point of view; for plenty of scrapbookers, the journaling part is sheer, frustrating drudgery. Or something that just never gets done but then makes the guilt flare up. That's one reason I wrote the class: to help scrappers feel confident about their journaling and to enjoy the process.

But I also think that if you're going to write some journaling—or any sort of writing, really; you could easily apply the techniques in Write Now! to your blog or your private journal or that personal memoir you've always wanted to write—you might as well write it well. The cool thing is that it doesn't have to take a long time to write it well. That's why the class's subtitle is "A Speedy Journaling Workshop." It teaches you how to write well and how to do it quickly.

Also, it's my favorite class because I deep-down, to-the-tips-of-my (blistered and toenail-less) toes believe that everyone can write well. Yeah, sure: not all of us can write good novels, or poems, or short stories. Not everyone has it in themselves to be the next great and famous Writer. But we can all write about our lives and our kids' and friends' and pets' lives with authenticity and significance. It takes a combination of things: knowledge (the techniques that writers use to make their texts come alive), confidence (which comes with practice and with never getting out of the habit of practice), and desire. Write Now! will help you with the first two. The desire part has to come from you.

Here's what I mean by that. This morning, I did notwant to do my scheduled 7 mile run. My back hurt and my right foot has been having this weird, inexplicable pain. (I even had an x-ray to make sure it wasn't a stress fracture. Which it isn't.) But when Kaleb asked me why I wasn't in my running clothes, I knew I had to put them on and put in my miles anyway. After I'd finished, when I was walking up my driveway, one of my neighbors stopped to chat with me. She told me she admired me for running, and that she wasn't sure how I did it, because running is hard for her to do. Her comments added to my post-run exhilaration, but I also had to chuckle a bit, thinking about how hard it was for me just to put my shoes on and get out the door.

Writing good journaling is exactly like that. It seems like it's too hard to do and that only a few people can do it. But if you do it every day, it becomes easier. With running you learn stuff like pacing and building endurance and avoiding injuries and maintaining glycogen levels and stretching just the right amount; those things help the seemingly-hard process of running become easier. With writing, you learn stuff like sentence structure and word choice and organization, silencing your internal editor and being brave on paper and filtering out the fluff to get to the real; those things help the seemingly-magical process of writing strong journaling become easier.

Doesn't matter, honestly, if you love journaling or hate it, this class will help you. If you have the desire, everything else will start making perfect sense! And, as a happy little perk, there's a give away on Thursday, July 28 at write. click. scrapbook. for a free seat in the class. Click over and leave a comment to enter!

on Weddings

I confess: I didn’t love my wedding day. Something like that is sort of strange to live with, like the fact that no one signed my Junior yearbook (because I even sluffed the yearbook signing day!), or that I didn’t go to prom, or that I put "Mr." instead of "Dr." next to Kendell’s dad’s name on my wedding invitation. It feels a little pathetic, wandering through life without those contemporary milestones, but it’s still the truth. My wedding day wasn't the most blissful day of my life.

My lack of bliss had nothing to do with my marriage, or even with the festivities. My sisters and mom worked hard to make sure I had delicious food at my reception: tiny chicken salad and crab salad sandwiches, vegetables and dip, hand-made mint chocolate temples, individual cherry cheesecakes. It was all very elegant, in an old house that had been renovated as a reception center. I loved my dress and veil (even though now I look at them and shudder a little bit, they look so dated). I think my bridesmaid dresses were gorgeous (although, Chris and Becky might disagree). The flowers were perfect.

No, the uncomfortable feeling I get when I remember my wedding day doesn’t come from the details. It doesn’t come from the fact that we got married in February when I really wanted a May wedding. It snowed that day, one of those bleary, miserly winter days, so all of my photos at the temple are ugly and grey. It doesn’t even come from the fact that the combination of winter weather and a Jazz basketball game on the same night meant that quite a few of our more casual friends didn’t come. No—it comes from the fact that I was 19, and standing in that gorgeous antique house in my beloved wedding gown was deeply, deeply unpleasant. I didn’t enjoy being the center of attention like that. And, at 19, I didn’t know myself well enough to know just how uncomfortable and unpleasant I’d feel in that position.

So when I received the assignment to make a wedding layout for this month’s WCS gallery, I was more than a little anxious. I haven’t scrapped my wedding photos. I have absolutely zero desire to scrapbook my wedding photos. In fact, they are somewhere at my mom’s house, which really means I might never see them again. So, instead of making a layout about my own wedding, I made one about Haley from a wedding we went to six years ago, my niece Lyndsay's:

 I hope asorensen

I wrote the journaling based on some thoughts I wrote in my journal that night. They focus on my hopes for Haley when she gets married: that she, too, will love the details, but also that she’ll get it right, somehow. More right than I did, so that when she looks back she only remembers being happy instead of mortified like I felt.

What about you? Did everything about your wedding day make you happy? Have you scrapped your photos? If you want some ideas, you should visit the gallery—there are some awesome ones there!

my Write. Click. Scrapbook Give Away

Today at  Write. Click. Scrapbook. is a great big give away day. Many of the WCS designers have put together different gifts, all of them scrapbook related. So! If you're of the scrapping persuasion, you should check it out. If you're not, well, maybe today is the time to start!

For my contribution, I decided to finally do something with one of my collections: word-based fabrics. It is a serious weakness of mine that when I see a fabric with words, I tend to want to buy it and make it into a scrapbooking embellishment. When you use fabric on your layouts, it does take a bit more effort than using, say, an alphabet sticker set. But the product possibilities effectively double. (I can't tell you how often I've thought "someone should make this patterned paper into fabric" or the other way around.) Plus, it's just so lovely. And as I am consistently drawn to word-based anything, well, it's a rare wordy fabric I can resist purchasing! I put some of my collection to use in a few textual fabric embellishments.

First, some tips for scrapping with fabric:

  • fabric is sold by the inch in increments based on a yard. Or you can buy it in fat quarters, which are 18"x22" inches; some fabric stores will also sell fat eights (11"x18"). When I'm buying a fabric I know I'll only use for a layout, I buy 1/8 of a yard, which is 4.5" tall x 43-45" wide. If the pattern of words repeats, make sure to buy enough that you get at least one repetition. Obviously there will be some leftovers when you're finished. Perhaps one day I will make a quilt with all my scrapping-fabric leftovers!
  • unless you're sewing your embellishment directly onto your layout, back it with some card stock. Then use your regular, preferred adhesive to stick it down.
  • alternately, it is perfectly ok to stitch it down on your layout. In fact, it is awesome. You can even, if you're so inclined, cover an entire 12x12 sheet of card stock with fabric. Plus, there's just something about the back side of a stitched-upon layout that makes me happy. Is that weird? 
  • keep a dedicated sewing-on-paper needle. Paper dulls needles faster than fabric does, so keep your nice, sharp needles for your fabric creations.
  • if you have one, use your walking foot. It moves the paper/fabric combo through the machine much easier than a regular foot. Warning: A quarter-inch presser foot will leave a faint scratched line where the 1/4" guide touches your cardstock, or, at least, mine does.
  • iron your fabric. I repeat: iron it! I know. I hate ironing too. But it does make a difference to the piece's outcome.
  • the way you cut your fabric also influences the end result. A rotary cutter produces a cleaner edge (obviously, straighter, too!) than scissors do. I like the more ragged edge that comes from a fabric cut with scissors, but you should do what makes you happy.
  • do some practice stitches before committing to whatever paper-and-fabric creation you're making. The tension will need to be adjusted a bit, depending on the texture of the fabric and the thickness of the card stock or paper you're sewing on.
  • decorative stitches work almost as well on paper as they do on fabric. Keep in mind, though, that the holes punched by the needle don't "heal" on paper like they do on fabric. If your stitches are too small or close together, the needle holes can turn into perforations instead.
  • sew slowly. Since paper doesn't heal, you can't fix your mistakes by ripping the stitches out. Trust me: just go slow!
  • keep in mind my cardinal rule of sewing: fabric is a flexible medium. You'll rarely get exactly, completely square and straight fabric embellishments. That's OK. the texture of fabric invites imperfection if you let it. Imperfection just reinforces the fact that you made this, not a machine.

Now for the give away:

1. The All-About-Me Embellishment:

Fabric tag 1 all about me 
(about 2 1/2" tall x 5" wide)

2. the baby boy tag:

Fabric tag 2 baby boy 
(about 4.5" x 7")

3. the Baby Girl Embellishment:

Fabric tag 3 baby girl 
(about 6x6)

4. the Christmas Tag:

Fabric tag 4 christmas 
(5" x 2.5") (made with some left over bits from this quilt)

5. The Cute Little Chick Set

Fabric tag 5 cute little chick 
(9"x5") (I know...cue bird-induced squee!)

6. the Hiking Set

Fabric tag 6 hike 
(8"x 5.5")

If you're interested in entering the give away, go to today's WCSpost and leave a comment. (You can, of course, leave a comment on my blog about the absolutely stunning quality of my work, tee hee, but that won't get you entered into the drawing.) You might just win nothing (and we all know that if *I* entered that would be the case, as I never win anything), but you could win my textual fabric embellishments. Or any of the other cool stuff that's up for grabs.

And let me know if you win!

If You are of the Scrapbooking Persuasion...

then you should come help us celebrate:

Write click scrapbook celebrates 2 years hooray 

(My assigned letter was P. I bought a cute little tiny cake with a green frosting P on it, but when I held it up for a picture, all the frosting slid off, right into my lap, before Haley—my official photographer—could snap the picture. So I used a fridge magnet instead, but I'm still a little annoyed that my tiny cake idea didn't work out.)

This week at Write Click Scrapbook we're celebrating our third birthday. There is, of course, the new June Gallery, where we all worked within the concept of being inspired by something on the WCS site. My layout

 Beach joy asorensen
was inspired by a recent week about using fabric on your layouts. I keep lots of fabric bits and pieces with the intention of using them on a layout, but then I forget, or I don't want to get my sewing machine out. Need to get over that! There's also a new design this month, and this week there are two days of product give aways, today and tomorrow.

I've been with this group for a year, so it's a sort of anniversary for me, too. I'm consistently inspired by the other team members, and not just by their WCS contributions, but by their ability to be a presence in the scrapbooking world. They manage to influence other people, which isn't something I'm good at. I love that about them!

Not only do I get to contribute, I'm also a recipient of that inspiration. My scrapbooking has become stronger and more focused, closer to what I really want to do with my hobby of choice—which is, of course, to record the stuff I don't want to forget. The stuff I am, frankly, terrified of forgetting. That's the simple purpose of WCS: Getting your memories down where they're not forgotten. It's a place that helps you remember that the memories matter most, and everything else? Well, that's just the icing on the cake.

(Of course, it's the sort of icing that doesn't slide off into your lap, possibly staining your favorite pair of jeans and forcing you to rethink your clothes for the day. Totally not that kind of icing!)

blogging elsewhere

So, this week I haven't been blogging much here, but I HAVE been blogging a lot elsewhere: I've been hosting the write. click. scrapbook. blog.

For the past two weeks or so, I've been carting around a half-written blog about scrapbooking. I'm still not ready to write it, but I think that's mostly because I've been writing so much on WCS about a scrapbooking topic that's near & dear to my heart. Namely: using your stuff.

Because seriously, people, I have a lot of scrapbook stuff.

Two Fridays ago, Becky (along with my niece Kayci and my other sister Suzette) just happened to stop by my house. Now, I only rarely have my house "company clean" because really, I only rarely have company. I guess I'm just not the sort of person who has friends dropping by all the time. And my house was in its usual cluttered-yet-clean-underneath disarray.

Except for my scrapbooking room, which looked a tiny tsunami of scrapping supplies had been unleashed. I was just wrapping up the prep on my Write Now class, and I'd been so consumed with making layouts that putting stuff away just seemed pointless. Why file it all when then I'd just have to flip through all my drawers to figure out where the thing I needed next had been stashed? It was much easier to just pile up all the stuff I was using on the floor.

I think Becky was shocked at my mess. And trust me: she's seen lots of my messes!

But here's the thing. All of that mess? It's just proof. I'm consciously striving not to horde. Not to see my supplies as sacred, untouchable items just waiting for the "perfect" layout. Instead, I've decided every layout is the perfect layout. Whatever I'm working on right now is deserving of whatever supply I want to use. Even if I use up an entire package of rub-ons or letter stickers or whatever. I've moved that product out of my collection and into my albums. Which really is where it belongs!

And honestly. This post isn't the one I want to write about scrapbooking. The WCS posts aren't the one that's still in my head, either. Maybe next week! But I hope you'll click on over and read my thoughts there, anyway. Just because I want  you (if you're a scrapper) to make layouts with your stuff, too! And, if you're  not, to maybe get inspired to become one. Or to use the horde of craft supplies I know you do have, be they fabric or cross stitching or knitting or tole painting or whatever.

Yeah, it's messy. It might just annoy your husband and shock your sister. But somewhere in that mess comes happiness: stories are getting matched up with words. And I know not everyone gets why that makes me happy. (In fact, I don't know if anyone I'm skin friends with really knows how obsessed I am with scrapping!) But it does—make me happy. It brings me a great sense of peace. It lets me relive good moments. If I get it down, the words, the stories, the photos, then, like Dad said, if I ever do forget like he has, someone else can read it and remember.

And there's value in that to me!

March Write Click Scrapbook gallery

Before I started using a digital camera, I was very methodical with my scrapbooking approach. I'd map out a section of an album so I knew which layout would go on the left, which would go on the right, and which would be a double page. This was a throwback to my Creative Memories days, when you HAD to be methodical or the fronts & backs of the layouts wouldn't fall in the right spots. I'd put photos for the next 15-20 layouts into old sheet protectors in a binder, and then I'd just work on whatever pictures came next.

When I got my first digital camera (a horrid little thing...I have nine entire months of awful photos that I still regret), I let go of my system. I just started scrapping whatever photos felt the most important or inspiring. I also started trying to do event photos (like birthdays and holidays) within three months of the event. (I am not always successful at this!) At least once a quarter I do some sort of Life Right Now layout about each of my kids (and sometimes me, too). I keep my finished layouts in a drawer until the drawer is full, and then I spend an hour or two rearranging layouts into the right albums.

I'm not entirely convinced that my old, methodical approach was wrong, nor is my current approach exactly right. One thing that I love is how, when you work in a random order and then arrange the layouts chronologically, the techniques and products get spread out through time, instead of all clumped together. I like revisiting different moments just on the whim of what I want to revisit right now. I sometimes get a little bit panicky, though, thinking I am missing things. I'd like all of our stories and photos to be together on layouts. But then I remember: I've written down almost everything. Even if it's twenty years later, I can always go back to the photos I've not yet scrapped because I can also go back in my journals and blog to find what I wanted to say about those photos.

This month's Write Click Scrapbook gallery is about getting over procrastination and working on the layouts or projects you've only half-way finished. I decided to tackle the photos of Jakey that I still had in that old binder from my old process. These were pictures taken in 2001 and 2002. It felt so completely strange to be working with these older pictures. I am so different from the person I was when I took them. My kids are so different. When I took those pictures, I couldn't see yet what sort of people they would be. I can see it more clearly now. Looking back reinforces what I got right and highlights the surprises.

Even though I only shared one layout,Almost_four_aSorensen 
(I know! look how little Jake was! And Emily was still young and healthy.) I ended up making six, and I have one last little-Jakey photo grouping to scrap. But I feel inspired, now, to work those old photos back into my process. I loved those days when my kids were still little. I need to get the photos out of the envelopes and into the albums so I can relive the days more often.

What is your scrapbooking process?

Run Like a Girl

This month's Write Click Scrapbook gallery is up! We all made mini albums, and holy cow—there is some CUTE stuff on there. Set aside a half hour and be seriously inspired.

For my mini, I put together a little theme album I've been wanting to do for years: a place to record my races. Even though it's an album about running (which is a sweaty, tough thing to do, right?) I went with a girly feel, using my favorite color combination (pink and black). Here's the cover:

Run like a girl 01 asorensen 

On the inside, I've got spots for 5ks, 10ks, half marathons (by far the thickest section!), marathon (for the glorious day when I finally accomplish one), and then miscellaneous distances (this is where, for example, Ragnar will go). You can see the rest of the album on the WCS site. (Well, not ALL of the pages, but an idea!)

I made the album simple by creating templates in my word processor. All I have to do, the next time I run a race, is open the templates, add my journaling and stats, print the photo, and stick everything down. It took me awhile to round up all my race photos and bibs (and, sadness, I couldn't find all of the bibs), but now that it's all assembled, it will be easy to maintain. Happiness! It's great to cross this project off of my perpetual scrapbooking to-do list!

Holiday Hodgepodge #12: a Thought for Next Year

When Kaleb woke up this morning, he ran over to the advent calendar and put the 24th toy into Santa's sack. Then he came to snuggle with me and said "Mom! All the toys are in Santa's bag! That means he's ready to come tonight, right?"

Well, almost.

I'm certain you're caught up in lots of last-minute prep, too, but I thought I'd share this idea. Maybe it's something you won't use until next year, but that's OK. Here's the concept: as parents,we invest a ton of time in our kids at Christmas. The shopping, of course, and the wrapping, but there are also the activities and the traditions and the baking. Sometimes it's nice to do something for yourself.

Enter my Christmas Eve notebook. Every year after I've set out all the gifts from Santa, I take a few minutes to write. And in this notebook, I focus on myself, on what I'm feeling about the holidays, what my hopes for the day are, how I have changed since the last Christmas, what I hope the next year will bring. It gives me a moment before the drama of the day to focus my thoughts and to relax.

This year I needed a new notebook, so I made one. You can see it here, at the Write Click Scrapbook blog. But it doesn't really matter what you write in. It can be just an ordinary, $1.00 spiral bound notebook you bought at Target. The important thing is that you write.

Merry Christmas!

Athletic Evolution

There's a new gallery up right now at the Write. Click. Scrapbook. blog. This month's approach was based on a unique idea, the Young Me, Now Me concept. Basically, you find an old photo of yourself when you were young, and you recreate it now. I love scrapping challenges like this—combining old images with new—because they push you to record something you otherwise wouldn't. They force you to see something otherwise invisible.

Some of the designers recreated nearly exactly their old photos; others interpreted the challenge a little bit more loosely. I went with the lose approach, even though I really wanted to recreate the photo in this blog post. My family already thinks I'm slightly odd with this whole scrapbooking thing. Asking Suzette to don her old cheerleading skirt and digging out that red cooler (which I am 78% certain my mother still owns) might just push them over the edge. Not to mention the fact that Hooter (the cat) is long gone, and Mom's new kitty vanishes whenever there are people other than my mother in the house.

But I went the route I did for another reason as well. I wanted to develop this vague theory I've had floating around in my head: that when you are super-active as a kid, you create a need in yourself for physical activity that never goes away. What started out as an hour a week grew into two a week, and then two a day, and then three, and by the time I had had enough, I was at the gym for about 5 1/2 hours, one for each event and the rest for stretching and conditioning. In addition to the obvious ways (like the definition in my legs), those hours changed me. They created a need in me to extend physical effort, to exhaust my body in order to give my psyche and soul its own energy source. It's a need that lingers still.

Here's the layout:November_Sorensen

Only, here's the thing: when I wrote the journaling for the layout, I went a completely different direction. (If you can't read the journaling here, you can on the WCS site.) Instead, I journaled about the unnameable feeling you get when you're standing on the beam, or in front of the bars, about to try a gymnastics trick that seems impossible. "I can't, I can't, I can't" fills your head until suddenly the NOs are replaced with an absolute assurance: Yes I can. Your heart fills up with knowing you can do it, and so you do. There isn't a word I know of for that feeling, and yet it is the thing I miss about gymnastics—and it is one of the reasons I am now a runner. Because running is one long moment of that unnameable sureness. If it were anything else—if I allowed my normal deluge of self-doubt and -criticism into my head while I were running—I wouldn't be able to run.

"I don't know how you do it," people tell me when I mention running. I generally swallow back my response: "I don't know how you don't." Part of running is running away: from children and my husband and the sometimes-overwhelming crush of responsibilities and troubles and worries that is modern life. I need to get away, need the space that running allows me to be with only positive thoughts in my head. I need the connection: exhausted body, exaltant spirit.

I've been running consistently (save about a year for a pregnant/newborn phase) for about ten years now. I think about the challenges I've experiences over that decade and I know: if I didn't have running, I would be broken now. Running helps me keep the crazy at bay. It gives me time to think and to figure stuff out. It lets me push myself beyond my own limit of what I thought I could do. It gives sweat an opportunity to run between my shoulder blades and confidence to push up into my heart.  Like gymnastics, it also gives me blisters. I'll more than likely never vault again, never swing the graceful arc of a giant, never flip across a board that's 4 feet above the ground. But running ensures that—even if it's just by going downhill—I still give myself the chance to fly.

Wonky Frame and Summer Haiku

It's the first of the month, which means a new gallery is up at Write.Click.Scrapbook. This month's approach: look through the WCS Tumblr for inspiration for a layout. If you don't know what Tumblr is (I didn't until last month!) there's an explanation. Here's the layout I made:


I wrote about the inspiration piece in my notes in the gallery...but you can see it here: cute wallpaper. I said this in my notes, but now I am going to say it again. I used to make layouts like this all the time, with the hand-drawn, slightly wonky frames. I'm not sure why I stopped, other than maybe it stopped feeling like a cool, new technique. I hate that about myself, that I allow myself to be swayed. Even though, when I am scrapping, I try to do it my way and not worry about what is popular, I still sometimes struggle with that voice in my head, the one that says "this is ___________" [lame, overused, old, boring]. Sometimes I don't manage to ignore it very well. I'm happy to reunite myself with the wonky frame (I am Officially Naming it that right now).

But here's the deal: when I started working on my layout, I had the wrong thing in my head. I surfed through the WCS Flickr group instead of the Tumblr. (What's with all the missing Es?) I found a lovely bit of inspiration, went happily along making my inspired-by layout...and only when I uploaded my file did I realize: DOH! Wrong thing! So, I am sharing that layout here, too:


It was inspired by this cute mini book (you can see more of it here, on Jennifer's blog). I use quite a few bits and pieces of poetry in my albums, and have even made layouts based on poetic forms, but I would have never gotten to the moment-as-haiku without Jennifer's example. I made this layout completely with scraps, except for the stickers, which made me feel all sorts of virtuous and responsible. I used a few favorite nature-themed quotes and a (very bad) haiku I wrote myself. In fact...I have been thinking about haiku ever since I made this, and have decided to write one haiku a day for the month of October. Is that a weird goal? I'm not sure. I like the way the form forces you to think extremely small, to slow down and notice details and to uncover the hidden thing, the one that makes the leap for you, taking it from a description to an image.

I might even share some on my blog! (Stop rolling your eyes...I know who you are. Eye roller!) Anyone else want to play along?