Guest Author - Michelle McVaney
I scurried around my home office collecting stickers and die-cuts from my makeshift scrapbook space: a small card table shoved in the corner with a few organizing bins stacked to one side. Nothing fancy, but it worked.
“Going somewhere?” my husband, Ron, inquired.
“Tonight is crop night at Chrissy’s,” I said as I finished rounding up the pictures and supplies from the table. “We talked about this two weeks ago. Remember?”
“No,” he said.
“It’s on the calendar.”
“Oh.” He frowned. “When will you be home?”
“Late.” Cringing at the frustration in my voice, I stopped to give him my full attention. “I want to finish our Hawaii album.”
“But that was two years ago.”
One last glance around the space, a quick kiss on my husband’s cheek and I was off. My feeble attempts to scrapbook at home had often been crushed by constant interruptions. Making progress on my albums required an evening away from pressing demands on my limited time and attention.
As I drove to my friend’s home, I wondered how many pages I would complete that night. Ten? Fifteen? Maybe twenty if I stayed focused. The joy of scrapbooking and the freedom of a girl’s night out left me buzzing with energy. When I noticed the speedometer I realized I needed to buzz a little slower.
Five other women were already seated when I arrived at the crop. I claimed the last chair and opened my bag, pulling out bright-colored cardstock, idea books, palm tree die-cuts, and the latest chipboard embellishments. Once I felt content with the setup, I glanced at Lara’s scrapbook. It was nearly complete. Her pages were simple and attractive. Just like mine, I thought. I imagined exchanging ideas as we worked.
Then I noticed Carol seated right beside her. Carol’s space at the table was meticulously organized with the latest supplies I had read about in Memory Makers magazine. The mere sight of it deflated my ego: I could never afford all that. Carol wore a pleasant smile as she effortlessly created a breathtaking page that reminded me of the display pages at the local scrapbook store. From the professional-looking photographs to the tiny embellished tags, Carol’s masterpiece resembled a creative work of art.
As I flipped through the pages of my scrapbook, the building anticipation from the past two weeks faded. My pages paled in comparison. I couldn’t possibly compete with Carol. Why even try?
After staring at my own simple layout, I grudgingly began looking through sample books and magazines for ideas. Nothing struck me. Inspiration faltered.
Thumbing through my photos, I scolded myself for their amateur quality and wondered if I should take a photography class (in all my copious free time).
After two hours of frustrated fidgeting, I abandoned my goal of completing the family vacation album. With only two pages completed, I packed my supplies and returned home defeated.
It wasn’t until later when I could look at the situation with a little perspective that I was able to see that when I started comparing, my creativity stopped. I failed to consider the hours Carol devoted to planning and creating each individual page. I didn’t have that kind of time to devote to each page. Different scrappers mean different pages. Different. Not better. The style of each scrapbook page directly reflects the personality, tastes, and resources of the individual creator. No two albums are identical because the pictures and the producer forever change. Surely I could produce works of art if I only had the time.
For me scrapbooking is a creative outlet, but mostly it’s about “girl time,” savoring the opportunity for reminiscent talks about the past and hopeful plans for the future. In fact, girl time at the cropping table is one of the finest rewards of scrapbooking. I look forward to the lively conversation and abundant advice as much as the pages I complete.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t ooh and aah over my friend’s pages. Sharing completed pages with those who appreciate the care that goes into each detail can be an incredible motivator. However, I’m very aware that if my oohs and aahs turn to frowns and complaints, the comparison will kill my creativity. My goal is to enjoy what others create, savor the girl time and strive for excellence in all my pages.
Excerpt from Real Women Scrap: Create the Life and Layouts You’ve Always Wanted, by Tasra Dawson. In Real Women Scrap, you will learn how to create balance in your life and layouts, crop out chaos and clutter, and leave a lasting legacy. With scrap lessons and life lessons, award winning author Tasra Dawson brings together the best of both worlds and helps you begin making choices to live intentionally and create the life and layouts you want.