Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Journaling About Your Childhood

What would you say is the most important element of a scrapbook layout? Probably the photos, right? Well, that’s not entirely true. Of course, without photos there would be no scrapbook page. But think about this: If there were no journaling, all we would have is a fancy photo album. It’s the journaling that brings the photos to life and tells the story behind them. Then why do so many people leave out the journaling? Because most of us find it difficult to put our thoughts down in writing, especially when it comes to writing about ourselves, Childhood memories can be some of the most difficult to document. I mean, for some of us, that was a long time ago. (Not for me, of course.)

In this article, I’m going to give you some ideas that should make journaling about some of your childhood memories easier. I’m fortunate to have lots of photos from my childhood, since my family has always been a photo-happy bunch. Even if you have only a few, these techniques will work for you too. My layout is about my favorite summer memories, but you can use these ideas for just about any topic. First take a look at my layout, and then I’ll tell you how I approached the journaling.

The journaling reads:

“When I was a little girl, Nanny Connie would take the whole family to the beach every Monday during the summer. She would close her yarn store, and off to Rye Beach we would go.

“If I close my eyes on a hot summer day, I can almost smell the salt water and the suntan lotion. I can almost taste the meatball sandwiches that we would bring and the ice cream that we would buy on the boardwalk. I can almost feel the hot sun beating down on me as I played in the sand.

“But most of all, I remember Nanny swinging me around in the cool, refreshing water. I remember her smiling and laughing almost as much as I was. I remember her black bathing suit and the dark tan she always had. And I remember that Mondays were the best part of summer when I was a little girl.”

When I sat down with these photos, I knew that the journaling would be a very important part of my layout. I also knew that I wanted to use my own handwriting. I therefore chose a paper that already had a lot of journaling lines on it. These papers by The Crafter’s Workshop are no longer available; but their Circle Circle Dot Dot Journaling Template would work just as well here. Then I looked at the photos and closed my eyes.

I let my mind go back in time to the 1960s … to the summertime … to the sounds, the smells, the tastes … to everything I could remember about those days. Then I opened my eyes and wrote them down in no particular order. I didn’t pay much attention to punctuation or complete sentences. I just wrote down what came to mind. And what came to mind was a flood of memories that took me back 40 years.

I finished with the most powerful and happy memory of all: my grandmother. Yes, I saved the best for last, because that would be the one that stayed in my mind (and my readers’ minds) whenever I (they) read my journaling. I still get tears in my eyes when I read it, and I’ve read it many times.

The most difficult part in writing this journaling was stopping. I had so much more that I wanted to write about my grandmother, but I decided to write it down and save it for some of the other childhood layouts that I’m going to create.

Now, I’m not promising that you’ll have an overabundance of ideas and thoughts to write about the first time you try this exercise. It takes practice and patience. The more you do it, the easier it will get. Start by setting a timer for two minutes. Close your eyes, and let your mind go back to the event or time about which you want to write. Then set the timer for five minutes, and just write. Write about what you see, smell, feel, taste, and hear. You can organize it and spell-check it later. Just write. Don’t stop until the timer goes off, even if you repeat yourself. If you want to keep going, and you just might find that you can’t stop, then keep writing.

When you’re finished, step away and do something else for a little while. Then go back to it and start fine-tuning it. Put your ideas in order; check your grammar and spelling. Decide on whether you want to hand-write your journaling or type it. Make sure that you leave enough room on your layout. Or place your journaling on your layout before you do anything else, like I did. The choice is yours.

Remember that your words are just as important to your layout as your photos are. Don’t let them take a back seat, or, worse yet, have no seat at all. If you plan ahead, you won’t run out of room. And if you practice the stream-of-consciousness technique I’ve just described to you, writing will become easier and easier for you every time you do it.

Other products used for this layout:

Cardstock – Die Cuts With a View, Brights

Alcohol Inks – Ranger Industries

Daisy die cuts and borders – Cricut by Provo Craft, Walk In My Garden cartridge

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