Thursday, March 22, 2018

If you love photos, memory keeping and pretty products then scrapbooking is a no-brainer hobby. There is no shortage of supplies out there to help you fill album after album and tons of inspiration to be found from talented scrappers around the world.

But, did you know that scrapbooking is good for you? That’s right, the hobby that you love, loves you right back. Here are 6 reasons that scrapbooking isn’t just fun, it’s good for your soul!

Before I get into these points, I want to say quickly that the attitude you have when you scrapbook is going to determine whether it’s good for you. Approaching scrapbooking with an attitude of perfectionism, rigidity and comparison to others will quickly steal your joy and sap your energy.

I should also say that for me scrapbooking serves as a way to tell all kinds of stories: the good, the bad and the ugly. I have evolved as a scrapbooker from the early years of heavy product focus and only-happy-moment pages to minimal products, tons of journaling and focus on real-life experiences. To learn more from the guru herself about how to document your real life stories, check out Ali Edwards. I owe my process to her vision and products.

Scrapbooking is cathartic.

Telling your story with words + art is a healthy way to process it. In a certain sense, scrapbooking is a form of art therapy, utilizing different parts of the brain to make sense of your world and integrate experiences into your life. The medium of scrapbooking helps you to go deeper into experiences with photos and journaling and is a safe place to process hard times and reflect on your experiences. Creating art stimulates connections between various parts of your brain and this process builds psychological resilience and resistance to stress.

One of our holidays last year was pretty rough. I won’t share the details on here but suffice it to say, it was less than ideal. As I went to document the experience, I found myself facing the dilemma of how to tell the day’s story. Did I want to be honest? Did I want to just use minimal words and try to forget the details? Did I want to paint a rosy picture and pretend it was all just fine?

Any of those options are fine because we all make the rules in our scrapbook worlds. There is no “right” way to scrapbook. But, if you want to use scrapbooking as a therapeutic tool, then the more authentic the better.  For that holiday page, I sat down and just wrote. I didn’t edit, I didn’t consider whether anyone would ever read it. I just shared my experience completely unfiltered. I wrote four typed pages about what happened and felt so much better afterwards. I might not have felt able to verbalize my feelings in the moment it was all happening but my scrapbook was there, listening to my experience and offering a space to put it when I was ready. I didn’t end up using this writing on the design of the page, but slipped it behind the layout in the page protector. Journaling doesn’t have to be public, it can be like a little diary just for you in the hidden crevasse of your albums.

It can put a positive spin on challenging experiences and moments. Project Life is one of my favorite ways to document bad days. Whenever I’m having a tough day I think about how I can document it in Project Life. It reminds me that this is just one day inside one week. That week is inside one month in one year in one decade and so forth. It reminds me that it’s one piece of a greater whole and that I can move forward from it.

A few weeks ago I had a really rough day. As with all days, it wasn’t completely good or completely bad but, overall, I felt pretty blergh. I had the thought in the middle of the day that this was the perfect opportunity to use a chipboard piece I had been saving from Ali Edwards that said “Hard Day” in the week’s Project Life spread. That was such a positive spin on a crappy day and served as a coping skill to help me get through.

Scrapbooking creates perspective. One of my favorite ways to understand life is through the lens of seasons. Whether we like it or not, all things will end. This is both a wonderful and terrible reality. Scrapbooking serves both seasons- it can help you celebrate the pleasant ones and work through the rough ones.

It’s a method for compartmentalizing experiences to help you keep moving forward.  Albums are little holders with whom you can honor and share your story and then create a distance and an opportunity for the type of closure where you have a door to revisit things whenever you want.

Scrapbooking increases self-awareness and gratitude.

Scrapbooking can be a fascinating mirror to your life. Going through your albums and paying attention to what you’re documenting provides so much information about your values, your routines and yourself.
This is especially true when you consider scrapbooking daily routines or stories over the span of time. For example, if you do a project like Week in the Life or Project Life, you will see the way things change and also the way things stay the same over time. 
A couple of years ago my husband and daughter and I went to Great Wolf Lodge. It was our second time and I was so, so pumped. I LOVE Great Wolf Lodge. I was excited to watch our daughter go down slides, splash around the water and oh, the photos I imagined I would get. Laughing and splashing and wild fun!
stood there in 6” of water at the bottom of a small slide, camera at the ready as I urged Ellie to go down. “I’ll be right here,” I promised. “It will be so much fun!” I became increasingly annoyed as she lingered by my side, holding on to my leg and watching other kids go down over and over. 
As I stood there, frustrated at her for not doing as I wanted her to, I became very aware of myself. I “zoomed out” and saw myself standing there next to a cautious and fearful toddler and suddenly realized that I was trying to create a moment to document rather than documenting the moment I was actually living. I saw my dad in myself, remembering the way he would get frustrated with me as a child for being cautious and afraid. I realized that this is so precious, the feeling of a child wanting comfort and being able to give it to them. I realized that this is a personality trait that will serve her well throughout her life and likely keep her out of trouble. I realized that this is not about me- it’s not about me having a photo or about me having fun. This is about her having an experience however she wants to have it and I am here to support and document whatever that story is.
I made a huge attitude adjustment and we had a really fun day. (And, for the record, she was going down the slide by herself over and over by the end of the trip and I got some really fun pictures.)

Scrapbooking builds self-worth and celebrates your love for others.

Scrapbooking is one of my love languages. It’s one of the ways I express love to myself and others. Taking the time to devote to a hobby is an important part of self-care. I work full-time at an emotionally challenging job and have a young child - life can be exhausting. The fact that I take time every day for myself is important. It’s me saying “I’m worth it.” I am worth the time, the money, the resources and the energy.

I have found that my process of creating has taught me a lot about who I am. My fear of wasting. My deeply sentimental heart.  My love of organization and cleanliness. My impulse to compare myself to others and dismiss the beauty of my own style. It is a chance to explore myself and express myself.

These albums are my legacy. They are my flag on the moon saying, ‘I was here and my life mattered.’ They are my way of saying to my daughter, ‘I noticed you. I paid attention when you talked. I knew your routines. I appreciated the way the light hit your hair in the morning or the way you rub your fingers together while you suck your thumb.’ It’s my best attempt to bottle things that I know are slipping away, to capture precious moments and hold them as close to me as I can for as long as possible.

Scrapbooking fosters connection and builds community.

The scrapbooking world is a little subculture full of passion and community. We have our own acronyms: DH = Dear Husband, DD = December Daily, LO = Layout…I could go on. We have celebrities -I totally geeked when I met Cathy Zielske. We have bullies (sadly).  We have opinions - hybrid vs. traditional vs. pocket pages vs. digital. We have crops and gatherings to spend time creating together, though we used to have more when brick and mortar scrapbook stores were still a thing. It’s really fun to be part of a group of people that share your passion and inspire you. I have made so many wonderful connections with crafters that I have never even met in person! And I have traveled near and far for events centered on this hobby that are among my favorite memories of all time.

Scrapbooking is your chance to play!  

Just because we are adults doesn’t mean we shouldn’t play! Scrapbooking is a great chance to express yourself through art and experiment with techniques, color, photography and writing. It is a beautiful thing to embrace the messiness of the creative process.  

I think most people get into scrapbooking because it’s fun! All of the beautiful products, the photos of people we love- what a gift to have the chance to celebrate our lives through this hobby.

Scrapbooking is a space that’s just for you.

I am blessed to have an entire room of our house dedicated to scrapbooking- but this wasn’t always the case. For the majority of my time as a scrapbooker I was confined to a desk in the corner of my room or apartment. At the beginning, I was working out of boxes in my closet. No matter where your space is or how big or small it is, it can be a retreat of creativity and a place where you have total control.

As an adult I operate within a lot of larger systems that have rules I must follow- but in this little world, it’s all me. I’m the queen bee. If I want to splatter 8 gallons of glitter on every page, I can. If I want to organize my albums according to color or year or type or person, I can. It's an opportunity for me to organize and create systems that are completely mine. My space, even when it was just a couple of plastic bins, has always been a safe haven where I feel completely in control and at peace.

If you want to hear more of me talking about this topic, you can listen to this episode of the Scrap Gals where I talk to Tracie and Tiffany. If you want to learn more about products that will help you tell the real stories of your life, you must visit Ali Edwards or Cathy Zielske.

Please let me know any thoughts or questions you have in the comments. Thanks for reading – now go forth and scrap your stories!


  1. Thank you so much for this post. Your words really resonated with me. I am new to scrapbooking and while I am sad that I didn’t start sooner, when my children were little, I am so grateful to have this in my life. I agree - it is cathartic and it is a reminder to pay attention and celebrate others. Thank you for sharing the story of your daughter and the water slide. I have totally been there and done that. Thanks Laura.

    1. That is so great- I'm so glad you connected with the story and welcome to the world of scrapbooking!! We're so happy you're here!! :)

  2. Love this post--nice to "hear" your perspective. Long live scrapbooking!

    1. Thank you!! :) And yes! Long live scrapbooking!