Hi everyone! What I love about Project Life is how flexible it is and, today, I wanted to share a litte bit about my story of how I use the Project Life structure to tell our day-to-day stories as they happen.
I was first introduced into the idea of Project Life four years ago, when Becky Higgins created a kit called Project 365 for Kit-of-the-Month club from Lisa Bearnson. I loved the idea and was already taking a photo every day so I bought two of the kits when they went on sale.
The kits were sold towards the end of one year, so when the new year began, I immediately started using my kit. I printed my photos, put them in their sleeves and wrote on the little journaling cards that came along with the kit I had.
A few months in, I quit.
What's important to note here is that I never quit. I am not one of those people who starts several projects and then walks away. I tend to pick my projects carefully and then stick with them all the way to the end.
But not so for Project 365.
To be fair, I did end up printing all daily the photos in bulk at the end and sticking them into the album. But I didn't have the patience to write all the journaling cards and I considered the project a total letdown for me. Which is why, when the new incarnation, Project Life, became really popular, I was reluctant to try it again. (Even though I still had my second kit from four years ago.)
Here's what didn't seem to work for me:
- using and printing 4x6 photos
- I prefer smaller photos and just putting pictures page after page felt like putting together a photo album (but more work) and the page didn't feel substantial to me somehow. It also felt like I was posting the photos on my blog daily and then printing them and doing a lot of repetitive activities that I didn't enjoy.
- the journaling cards
- I didn't like my handwriting and, again, I was writing these thoughts on my blog already so it felt repetitive, ugly, and time-consuming. (In fairness, I probably could have figured out how to type directly on to the cards but this felt like at lot of extra work.)
Since I disliked both the larger photos and the journaling cards, it was easy to think that I disliked the whole structure of Project Life. This was partly because I already wrote a blog daily and a lot of the work I did felt repetitive and time-consuming.
But then something interesting happened. For 2012, I chose "savor" as my one-little-word. I had begun practicing gratitude regularly and wanted to increase my awareness. Pay more attention to my life as it happened. Savor all the little moments that everyday life and miracles are made of. So I created something called The Savor Project.
The idea behind this project was to document our little, daily stories each week. In its first incarnation, it was just a Moleskine journal that I was altering. But the album got unwieldy really quickly and it was obvious that this idea wouldn't scale to a year-long project. (You can see the album here.)
I loved the idea of the project but I needed to find a different execution. That's when I finally revisited the Project Life structure and realized it could totally work for my personal goals. I still had my second kit from four years ago and decided to give it a try.
And it worked like a charm.
I know this post is all words and no images so far, so here is what my spreads look like in my album:
So here's the structure I use for my spreads:
- Pick 4-8 stories from this week
- Pick and print images to represent the stories (I use a small polaroid printer that prints stickers)
- Create 6x8 mini-layout-like pages. Stitch, have fun and then cut them in the middle, so they fit vertically into the 4x6 slots.
- Hand-journal stories directly on to the pages
- Embellish to my heart's content (though I try to keep them flattish just to not make the album too thick.)
- Since I have very specific art-related goals this year, too, I use the bottom sections that are originally for the journaling cards, to store copies of my art from that week.
- Even though most of the stories come from that week, I don't keep track of the date. The goal is to have a collection of small stories from that year in one album.
Here's another spread:
If there are one or two extra stories, I might let them spill into the next week. But there are some weeks when I just have too many stories to tell and I don't want to give them up. So I will occasionally add half-a-page so I can sneak in 2-4 more stories. Here's an example:
A month ago, I wrote a detailed post on the My Mind's Eye blog about my process. You can read it here. But I wanted to show you what my pages look like before I put the stories down. Here they are as 6x8 pages with some layering of pretty papers:
- I can prep the pages ahead of time and then if my week is really busy all I do is stick the photos (which are are stickers so require no extra adhesive), write some journaling, and add a title.
- I don't have to have photos from the whole week, I only need four stories. Sometimes even fewer if there was a big event. For example, my son's birthday took four sections to cover so all I needed were two more stories that week.
- I get to use a LOT of my stash. This is like mini-scrapping. So I feel the same sense of joy and accomplishment as I do when I scrap but it's much faster.
- Because it's a story based approach, it covers that week's stories much more deeply than if I were trying to do a general review of the week. These are stories I'd usually be scrapping. It's like making 4-8 scrapbooking pages a week, but MUCH faster.
- I haven't yet, but if I do end up completely missing a week, there's no way to tell that by looking at my album. Even though it's sequential, it doesn't specifically indicate a timeframe on each spread so I could easily have one spread span two weeks (or even a month!) if I wanted. The only reason I am sticking to a spread a week is cause I want to.
- And most importantly, while I do get to play with a lot of product (and use my unacceptably large stash), I love that this is about preserving stories. For me, it's all about finding a way to savor our moments. I love that when I am living those moments, I get to enjoy them. When I process the photos, I remember them once again. And when I sit to do this project, I get to live them a third time. I am always filled with so much gratitude for my life when I look at my pages. For me, product always comes second. Things are in fashion only for this moment. And years later, I might not care for the embellishment I was in love with now. But the memories are eternal. They will make me happy and fill me with gratitude forever. So I keep my focus on them.
Before I end, I wanted to share today's downloadables with you. They are by the awesome Marnie!
And there is one more set that coordinates with the printables from Tuesday.
You may download it here.
Aren't they magnificent? Thanks Marnie!!
So now, to conclude: Whether you like my personal way of approaching Project Life or not, the one takeaway I hope you have today is that the Project Life system is super-flexible. There's no rule saying you have to use the cards that indicate a particular week. There's no rule saying you need to print 4x6 photos. You don't have to use the journaling cards. You don't have to use anything you don't want to. You can make it work for you. For your particular likes and dislikes. For your personal goals. I can tell you that it's worth taking the time to find a way that makes it truly work for you. Remember that, at the end of the day, this is your project. You are doing it the people you love and for yourself.
Do what fulfills you.