Time for a Little Reality Check

If you didn’t catch Ali Edwards’ post yesterday about “getting real,” I encourage you to check it out. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me …

If you’ve been hanging out me with for the past five months (yes, it’s already been five months!), you’ve probably noticed a recurring theme in my more personal posts … that never-ending struggle for balance. It’s a struggle I don’t ever really feel like I’m making headway on. Sure, I have days, even weeks sometimes, when I feel like I’ve got things on a pretty even keel. But for the most part, I generally feel like I’m doing way too much of one thing … and not enough of another. The only thing that really changes is just what is on each end of the scale … and as much as I do, I still feel like my list of what’s NOT getting done is growing so fast that I’ll never catch up.

The older I get, the more I notice a need to step back and see the big picture more often. I find that I get so focused on my current projects that I start to lose perspective. And it’s typically after I’ve been hitting the same wall over and over and over again that I finally pause and think … wait, I could probably change this if I just stopped for a few minutes to think about it. The trick is to actually take that time to stop and look.

So that’s why I find Ali’s post so helpful. In it, she shares a whole list of things to think about regarding facing the reality of your present life. It’s that focus, those specific questions, that I’ve been needing lately to force myself to step back for a bit and take a look at the bigger picture.

I could probably fill a whole journal with responses to those questions because Ali touches on so many different areas that apply to me. But for now, I thought I’d focus on the scrapbooking part of my life, since that is the area that I seem to have the strongest feelings about, both positive and otherwise. Plus, you probably don’t want to hear about all that other stuff… 😉

I’ve narrowed the areas I most need to “get real” about down to the following three, which are so intertwined that I’ve lumped them all together…

  1. My vision of what scrapbooking “should” be and what it actually “is” for me.
  2. Expectations of myself.
  3. Amount of projects on my To Do list.

I tend to feel like I’m supposed to scrapbook everything, because at one time that was my goal. I had visions of completely recording every important or memorable detail of my kids’ lives, not to mention my own, and have also had thoughts about going back in history and getting a bunch of the family “stuff” documented as well … you know, in my spare time.

The reality? I can’t even “keep up” with scrapping what happens right now, let alone go back the 14 years I’ve had kids or the 40 years I’ve been alive … or the centuries of my family history. I have boxes upon boxes of saved photos, letters, ticket stubs, programs … all waiting for that “someday” when I’ll get around to getting it all neatly organized and/or scrapbooked.

Um, reality check. It just ain’t gonna happen. And I realized that about a year ago, which is when I started to rethink my approach. I kind of let myself off the hook – or so I thought – and decided to try to focus more on the stories and less on trying to document every little thing my family does. But while I gave myself permission to let go of that need for chronological, uber-thorough record-keeping, I didn’t ever really let go of that vision or take the time to really think through a system that will work for me … and then put it into practice. I’ve been bouncing back and forth like a ping pong ball … and the result is feeling a lot of …

Guilt about all of the stories that I’ve already forgotten that I didn’t get around to recording in time. Guilt about the mess that keeps growing in my office. Guilt about the huge number of layouts focusing on my daughters in comparison to the handful I’ve done about the boys. Guilt about starting projects and not finishing them. Guilt about not spending enough time scrapbooking … and spending too much time scrapbooking. Guilt about wanting to scrapbook the stories more than wanting to experience them. You name it, I’ve probably felt guilty about it.

And guilt is not the feeling I want to have in connection with my scrapbooking. Nor do I like feeling like I’m not measuring up to my own impossibly high standards. And here’s the kicker … if I just stop, get off auto-pilot, and look at the big picture, it finally dawns on me… who am I doing this for? Do I even WANT to remember all those little details? Is trying to capture the past making it impossible to be in the present? What is this almost obsessive approach costing me in the process?

So my conclusion after thinking about this today is that I need to spend more time thinking about this. I need to step back and really define what role I want scrapbooking & memory-keeping to play in my life, clarify what I am trying to accomplish – and what I am not – and set some realistic goals & expectations to help make that vision a reality.

Once I get it figured out, of course I’ll share … but please don’t hold your breath.

I’ve got enough to feel guilty about already. 😉

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Please share your thoughts in a comment below …

Comments

  1. Laser says:

    I have to do a reality check, bigtime! I feel the same as you do – overwhelmed and lots of guilt.

    I have 71 years to catch up on and it is going nowhere fast. I have pulled in the reigns and am trying to set realistic goals for myself regarding the past while trying to just enjoy the present and scrap as much as I can of the present. I will continue to work slowly on the past starting with some bare bones layouts of family. If time permits I will get more detailed.

    I decided something is better than nothing so general layouts of some of the past generations will be a good start on the past.

  2. Laser says:

    I have to do a reality check, bigtime! I feel the same as you do – overwhelmed and lots of guilt.

    I have 71 years to catch up on and it is going nowhere fast. I have pulled in the reigns and am trying to set realistic goals for myself regarding the past while trying to just enjoy the present and scrap as much as I can of the present. I will continue to work slowly on the past starting with some bare bones layouts of family. If time permits I will get more detailed.

    I decided something is better than nothing so general layouts of some of the past generations will be a good start on the past.

  3. Dawnll says:

    I so need to get real with my expectations.I love your honest look into the original article by Ali.
    Thank you for sharing such an enlightening article. I am off to start eliminating some of my piles I know I will never get to….layers of guilt gone!

  4. Dawnll says:

    I so need to get real with my expectations.I love your honest look into the original article by Ali.
    Thank you for sharing such an enlightening article. I am off to start eliminating some of my piles I know I will never get to….layers of guilt gone!

  5. Beth says:

    Perfect timing! I spent some time yesterday figuring out that the reason I was doing Project 365 was to capture everyday memories, not take a picture every day. I gave myself permission to take 0 or 100 photos or anything in between. Thanks so much for the encouragement to be realistic and look at the big picture!

    • Good for you! I just started a 365 project this year too, for the first time, and the first time I hit a day where I didn’t get a photo, I faced the same thing. Finally came to the same conclusion as you… but I have to keep reminding myself of that. TFS! :)

  6. Beth says:

    Perfect timing! I spent some time yesterday figuring out that the reason I was doing Project 365 was to capture everyday memories, not take a picture every day. I gave myself permission to take 0 or 100 photos or anything in between. Thanks so much for the encouragement to be realistic and look at the big picture!

    • Good for you! I just started a 365 project this year too, for the first time, and the first time I hit a day where I didn’t get a photo, I faced the same thing. Finally came to the same conclusion as you… but I have to keep reminding myself of that. TFS! :)

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