One early morning when I was in junior high, I got in the shower to get ready for school. Even then, my eyes were pretty bad, and plus to give myself the illusion of getting more sleep, I liked to shower with the lights off. So the dark blotch in the corner of the shower didn’t catch my attention until I’d started washing my hair. I looked down, saw the blob, and then had to crouch down to see what it was. I expected a fuzzy. What I got was an enormous black spider. Being a girl in a houseful of girls, I didn’t like spiders. So I started screaming. My mom raced, completely panicked after being woken by a screeching girl from a dead sleep at 6:15 in the morning, into the bathroom. When she saw what I was screaming about—I was huddled, by the time she arrived, in the opposite corner of the shower—she rolled her eyes, squished the spider with a blob of toilet paper, and went back to bed. To this day? I never shower without putting my contacts in first AND I always make sure to check the corners of all showers before starting the water!
This is Amy Sorensen, and I’m bringing you something a little bit different for this month’s write. Saturday. It sort-of goes along with our monthly theme of minis because honestly, this album is one I keep fairly updated, even though I’m not certain that it really qualifies as an album or a scrapbook or a mini, per se:
That is my "My Stories" album. And in it I keep—well, my stories! Like the story of the shower spider, which at least one of my children will inevitably request I tell them whenever we are on vacation. (Because checking all corners of a hotel room for spiders is one of my vacation necessities!) Or the story about the time my then-boyfriend was chasing my younger sister around the front yard (just being playful) and a policeman stopped because he thought that Kendell was trying to beat her up. (He really wasn’t.) (We all still giggle about this!) Or the late night when one of my ex-boyfriends decided to get back at me by shoving a duck into my bedroom window. (Seriously!)
What I mean by "stories" are the little incidents and experiences that add flavor to your life. The chestnuts you pull out at family get-togethers or the tales of mirth you tell at parties. The inside jokes and memories and embarrassing moments that make you unique. You know: your stories.
These are so easily overlooked in our scrapbooks. Take the spider story, for example. I’ve just never managed to tell that story on a regular scrapbook layout, because the impetus has never been there. I try to tell my children’s stories on their pages. My stories don’t always fit. And while I do keep an album about myself and believe strongly that every scrapbooker should do the same, the stories might not ever get told if I felt I had to make a layout (including photos!) of every single one.
Who wants a photo of a spider in the shower anyway?
But I also feel it’s important to record my own stories. This is mostly because when I was a child, I loved listening to my grandma talk about her parents, one of whom I was named for and the other I named my son after. Amy and Nathan, Nathan and Amy: I loved those stories. But now, as an adult, while I can remember sitting on Grandma’s bed and the sound of her voice and even the texture of her bedding, what I can’t remember are the actual stories about my great grandparents. They’re gone.
And I don’t want my stories to be gone.
So here’s how I keep track of my stories, the ones that don’t fit into any other album.
1. I developed a file system. On my computer, I have a folder labeled "my stories." In it I save the files with the stories. Each story has its own file and is named for the main concept. So, the shower spider story is saved in a file called "shower spider.wpd" (yes: I do still use WordPerfect!).
2. I developed a printing system. About every six months, I print out the files that haven’t already been printed. Then I move them into a sub-folder of the "my stories" folder called (creatively enough!) "printed." So, right now the folder looks like this:
Since I printed at the end of December, there aren’t a ton of files there yet. By the time June or July gets here, there will probably be about twenty. I’ll open all of the files and consolidate any that start with the same letter so they print on the same page. (I also do double-sided printing to keep the amount of pages as few as possible.) After a quick spelling and grammar review, I print the stories, punch the pages, and put them in the binder in the corresponding alphabet tab. Once this binder is full, I’ll make an Contents page and then move on to the next binder. (I bought four of this style about three years ago from Target.)
3. I make sure to write or record my stories. Sometimes this happens because I’ll randomly remember something. Sometimes a trip, a conversation, even a smell will be a spark that leads to a story. Sometimes I write them as a response to a journaling prompt. (I’m a write every day sort of person.) A blog post, a Facebook comment, a question from one of my kids: nearly anything can spark the memory of a story. I just write it down without worrying too much over writing perfection. My goal is to get the details down with enough vividness that the story evokes some sort of emotional response. Then I save the file and move on with my life.
And I have to say: even though my stories binder doesn’t have any photos in it, it still is one of my favorite scrapbooks. It takes next to no time to update and it gives me a sort of happy peacefulness knowing that my stories are written down. Even if no one but me ever reads the stories, it’s still a great project.
Your stories are important, too. And instead of waiting until you have the time to scrapbook all of them, you might try this approach to recording them. It might just become your favorite "mini," too!
And, speaking of minis! HERE is a list of ten journaling prompts taken from this month’s mini-album gallery. That is one of the things I love about journaling: you can find ideas for your words almost everywhere. Think of it as a sort of translation, from mini to layout. These ideas will help you make the swap!