In January, on somewhat of a whim, I decided to participate in the Month of Challenges at The Lilypad. I made just a handful of pages in 2014 and I knew I wanted something to kickstart my memory keeping in 2015, so a page a day seemed like a great way to get that rolling.
This is the third year The Lilypad has hosted their page-a-day challenge and I remember hearing about it the first year and thinking it was a little insane. And after completing a whole month successfully, I am here to tell you that, yes, it is a little insane. But it was also inspiring, challenging, and rewarding. It also made me question whether I should be doing this at all. (Spoiler: The answer is yes, with moderation.) After recovering for a week or so, I wanted to share 10 things I learned from the Month of Challenges.
1. Everyone has to start somewhere.
One of the challenges that surprised me was the Do Over Challenge, which asked us to remake a page or re-scrap a photo. At first, I was rather frustrated with this challenge because I really don’t believe one should bother re-doing pages or re-scrapping photos. But, I did know that I had some very, very early pages from before I found designers that were really my style that I really didn’t like. And then, I stumbled upon this page:
This was actually where I started with digital scrapbooking and design. The papers and elements were some of the very first things I designed, long before I was ready to show them to anyone. And it struck me how far I had already come both in scrapbooking and design in just a few short years. Honestly, had I actually finished this page (which I obviously hadn’t, hence the ribbons on top of the title) I think I would’ve kept it. Because even though it’s simple and my color choices make no sense with regards to the photo I used. It doesn’t matter. I love the new layout I made, but I think what matters most is that I recorded that moment, that first night Isaac got to sleep in my room.
In a couple years when (I hope) my kids are looking through my scrapbooks, they aren’t really going to care about whether I was good at shadowing or photo editing. They are going to care that I took the time to write down what God was doing in my life through them and how I remembered their childhood. They are going to care about how much I loved them and not about how good I am at scrapbooking. So, just start somewhere. Write on the back of your photos, if that’s all you do. Record what you love and remember and the details won’t matter much.
2. You can learn something new or a new way to do something old.
Even though I honestly haven’t been digital scrapbooking for that long, I sometimes naively become convinced that I’ve pretty much got this digital scrapbooking this all figured out. And that’s probably the quickest way to get myself feeling apathetic about working on pages. Also, it’s total crap. I always have something new to learn. The Puppet Warp and Out of Bounds challenges were confirmation of this for me.
I’ve done lots of extractions for my designs, but I had never, not once done one on a page before the Out of Bounds challenge. And when I starting playing around with the puppet warp tool for curling and warping shadows and elements, I really fell in love. I’d used it before, but the challenge pushed me to a place where I really learned a new skill to help compose my pages. I love getting a paper realistic look and now I have confidence with a new tool to help me achieve that look.
All 31 Layouts from the Month of Challenges
Click to see a larger image or go to my gallery at The Lilypad for supplies and more info.
3. You can make time if you want to, but maybe sometimes you shouldn’t.
I am still torn about this particular lesson from last month. Through setting a public commitment to make a page everyday, I discovered that yes I definitely can find more time in my life to work on pages and my hybrid albums. But towards the end of the month, I also realized that there are times when scrapbooking is SO not a priority.
When I was struggling towards the end to finish up my pages before the February 1st deadline, I ended up missing the Sunday morning gathering at my church. It wasn’t entirely intentional, but talk about a moment when my priorities were all sorts of out of whack. Do I regret finishing? Not exactly. But, do I regret putting my hobby before gathering with my church body? Definitely. And I know there were other moments throughout the month that I definitely put my hobby before my family or my friends and that’s definitely not worth getting a few memories into an album.
What I learned from the past month was that I need to be even more intentional in how I spend my time. I love digital scrapbooking and I believe that it can be a great way to be thankful, to remember our stories, and to express our god-given creativity. But it can’t be more important that making those memories, actually spending time worshipping God, or giving ourselves space to rest so that we can continue to be creative.
Peppermint of One Little Bird mentioned recently that she’s now scheduling her scrapping time instead of labeling it as part of that ever-nebulous label “free time.” I think that’s exactly what I need to do so that I can be conscious of how I am balancing my time between family, my different work, my church, my friends, spending time alone and my hobbies.
4. Digital scrapbooking is cool.
I’ve always struggled with a desire to hide the fact that I’m really into digital scrapbooking from anyone who I didn’t already know was really into digital scrapbooking. I think I was way more forthcoming that I’m into really nerdy boardgames than scrapping. (Which, by the way, is aterrible marketing strategy when you sell digital scrapbooking designs.) But I decided with the Month of Challenges to share a bunch of my pages on Instagram and my personal Facebook page and I was pleasantly surprised by the number of friends and coworkers who commented on how cool they thought they were and seemed to really enjoy my sharing them. So, share your pages and let your scrapbooking flag fly. Haters gonna hate, but it turns out that most people will think what you do is pretty cool.
5. Starting with a prompt makes the white page less scary.
One of the reasons digital scrapbooking templates are so popular is that a blank page is intimidating. A template gives you a great place to start, but so does a challenge. Even if it’s a really simple prompt, like use a list on your page, it gives you a direction to head in. There are tons of places to find different challenges and prompts, but I’ve also found that keeping a gallery of inspiration on Scrap Stacks or Pinterest helps. I pick a page that inspires me and choose one element to focus in on – color, composition, style, a particular element used – and that gives me a place to start from.
6. Everyone has an off day.
If you make 31 pages, you will make some that you’re really not that excited about. And there will be days when you struggle to get a page done or things just won’t feel like they are working out. I think this was just a reasonable reminder to me that I’m going to love some pages more than others and that’s okay. Which leads me to…
7. Not everything has to go in album.
This was a revolutionary idea for me. Even though I’ve done some art journal pages in the past, I’ve kind of always assumed that unless I printed them off and put them in album I had failed the page somehow. Then someone mentioned in a comment that they make some pages just for fun – to experiment or just to play – and they never intend to print them or put them in an album. And that’s okay. It’s okay to try something new and hate it and throw it in the recycling bin. There is value in just sitting down and letting your creativity play. And maybe you will make something amazing you want to put in an album, but it’s not required.
8. It’s good to work outside your comfort zone.
I generally lean towards clean and simple pages with a lot of white space. (I do, however, have the formal art journaler’s affection for paint, stamps, and brushes.) But when I was forced to do a really clustered page or use a template that wasn’t my usual style it forced me to flex my creative muscles. Always going to a white background and a ton of white space isn’t wrong by any means, but it was good to kind of break out of my scrapbooking rut and expand my style a bit. Doing so allowed me to remember that even though I strongly prefer a certain ratio of white space, there are aspects of crazy clustered pages I can incorporate into my style.
9. I hate quick pages.
I had never worked with a quick page before and I never will again by choice. They have their place for some scrappers to be sure, but though it was a whole challenge about adapting the quick page, I still found it annoying stiff and limiting.
10. Build momentum to accomplish your goals.
The best part of January was that, at the end, I had 31 pages done. My grand total of pages done in 2014 was something like seven. There were a couple of spots where it was really hard to get a page done, but in general it was was easy because I had built a ton of momentum after a few days. For me, this served to highlight how important it is for me to build habits. If I want to scrapbook more, I need to do it a regular interval. (I’m probably not going to stick to the daily schedule, however.) If I want to read my Bible more, draw more, pray more or have a cleaner house, I need to do these things daily. If you build momentum with a habit it is SO much easier to keep going.
If you participated in the Month of Challenges or you’ve ever done something similar, what did you learn from it? Would you do it again? Please leave a comment letting me know!