Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Scrapbook Your Own Life

By Christina VanGinkel

When many of us think about our scrapbooks, we picture layouts of our kids and grandkids, even our spouses and other family members, maybe a layout about the family dog and cat, even the goldfish. Rarely do we think about creating a layout, or heaven forbid, a complete album, about ourselves though.

An album about yourself can be one of the most interesting you will ever produce, as who knows more about you, than you yourself. An interesting way to go about coming up with enough ideas to fill an album and to jumpstart the idea so it does not just languish in your idea pile is to sit down and interview yourself.

Make up a list of questions that you might ask an elderly relative, such as a grandparent. Even if you are younger, this is still a good format to go with, as it will make you think of the long-range plan of your life, providing you with many page ideas. Some questions to get you started could include:

Where did you live as a child?
Whom did you live with?
What schools did you attend and did you have favorite subjects, teachers, or classmates?
Where did you live after leaving your parent's home?
What was your first job, your favorite job, your least favorite job?
What is your job now?
What are your interests, your hobbies?
Do you have any pets?
If you are married, what memories of your first home with your spouse do you have?
What dreams do you have for the future?
What goals do you feel you have achieved?
What do you hope others will remember about you twenty, fifty, a hundred years from now?

A scrapbook about yourself is important in many ways, so do not feel as if it is something that is a waste of your time. It is a good way to remind yourself what a valued individual you are and it is also an ideal way to show your kids what you were like as a child, that you have goals and dreams, likes and dislikes. For future generations, a scrapbook about you will most likely become a valued treasure. Can you imagine having a scrapbook with photos and journaling that a grandparent or great grandparent put together about them? I have just a handful of pictures of my grandparents and I treasure them with my most prized possessions. How I wish I had something that was in their handwriting, or a glimpse into their thoughts. Even if you do not have many pictures of your past, take the time to assemble what you do have and incorporate as much journaling as you can, as your words will speak just as loudly as any group of pictures ever could.

If this sounds too daunting a task, begin small. Choose a small sized scrapbook, such as an 8 inch by 8 inch, or make one yourself with just a few pages, such as a lunch sack book, and pick one topic about yourself that you would like to have others remember or know about you. Choose the age you are right now for example, and focus on what is going on in your life this year. What house or apartment are you living in, who are your neighbors, are you married, do you have kids, any pets? What do you do for a living, what are some of your favorites, such as television shows, movies, what are you reading, what do you do for entertainment? By focusing on a short time frame, you can often come up with more ideas than if you look at the big picture of your life. Do not forget to include some mementos that commemorate this time in your life too. Some ideas could include ticket stubs from the movie you were willing to stand in line for hours to see, a copy of the menu from your favorite restaurant; even a paycheck stub showing all the overtime you worked for the sum of what will look tiny to upcoming generations! Future generations and current ones will enjoy these scrapbooks as much if not more than those you will do about any other subject, simply because they will end up being a unique glimpse into the person you are.

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