Top Menu

Archive | Storytelling Ideas

Around Here – Looking Back + Looking at the Year Ahead

The end of 2015 was a whirlwind of life/work goodness, but I missed posting my final Around Here recap. To close out that series, I’d like to invite you to take a look back and a look ahead with me.

My One Little Word for 2016 is trust, so I also thought it would be fun to connect some of my initial thoughts on that word with this update. I hope what results here is an illustration of my strides toward a more purposeful life that feels balanced, creative, and whole.

What’s your word for the year? When you’re done reading this post, I’d love for you to leave a comment and let me know.


Around here I’m trusting the power of routine.

I’ve invested a lot of time into creating and using systems that help me plan my weeks, months, and years. I’m not perfect (nor a perfectionist), but it is something I put consistent effort into.

I have some ambitious personal goals for 2016, but I know that it’s the sum of 366 days that really matters. The actions I take each and every 24-hour period are what my year will become.

I’ve had some success in creating a morning routine, but fostering multiple daily habits is not an area that I’ve mastered. 2016 will be the year that I give it a shot.

By crafting a more solid foundation that includes getting up at the same time, drinking more water, and reading, I believe I’ll stay more focused, make better decisions, and feel happier. #simplicity

Bottom Line: I’m using the Strides app to track the daily habits that support my goals, my paper planner for weekly planning, and Asana for long-term project management.

Around here I’m trusting the structures I’ve built.

The close of one year and the opening of another always has me considering what big changes might be needed. As is likely the case for you, my scrapbooking is not immune to consideration.

And while I mentally try on new formats or styles, I ask myself “would this be easier?” I’m always looking for the path that simultaneously both satisfying and simple.

For 2016 I kept coming back to bringing more digital techniques into my process, but I never felt ready to commit to digital layouts or a minimalist photo book. I like to play with supplies too much.

What I was able to do, however, was reconcile this craving while making a plan to stay the course. I’ve really enjoyed working in the annual context, but thinking about my stories thematically. I’ve felt content doing Project Life in my own unique way, while accepting that layouts are my bread and butter.

The addition of more digital techniques is only a win-win, creating a dual sense of newness and ease while letting me do what I do best.

Bottom Line: I’m continuing to explore using the Library of Memories categories to create divisions within an annual scrapbook album that includes pocket pages and layouts. I will include some printed digital layouts that I create with Lightroom.

Around here I’m trusting that false starts are an important part of the process.

Last year, as part of a sincere desire to grow, I wanted to venture outside of my comfort zone. Instead of doing more of the same, I wanted to shop around for something different.

As it turns out, I don’t like shopping (figuratively or literally).

First I cancelled my kit club subscriptions, because my backlog was out of control. It was the right decision at the time, but for me it turned out to not be a permanent one.

By the end of the year I felt frustrated that my 12×12 paper stash had dwindled so much, yet I could never seem to pull the trigger on an order. I would always fill up my cart and take things out one by one.

For me, the real benefit of a kit is that I can trust that something I like (or mostly like) will promptly arrive at my door without me having to wrestle with my own demons of indecision. It’s paid for and I can get to work without mental anguish.

This personal challenge also led to my inability to continue with the unKit Club. It was a grand idea, but perhaps too grand for me.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned as a business owner is to substantially leverage what you’re best at and delegate the rest. My zone of excellence is writing and teaching. I love scrapbooking and I’d like to think I’m not half-bad at it, but my business does not rest solely on my ability to make pages.

The mission of Simple Scrapper is to guide you to a more purposeful hobby that fills you up and fits your life. It’s about ideas, strategies, and processes that make memory keeping doable. Part of that is a deep sense of “we’re in this together” as a community.

Shopping will always be a part of our hobby. However, the most effective role I can play is not in tell you what to buy, but in helping you identify what shopping should look like for you.

Bottom Line: I’m subscribing to a scrapbook kit again and once I post my unKit #1 layouts, that project will end.

Around here I’m trusting that less really is more.

Part of embracing what I’m best at involves investing more (time and heart) in each thing I produce. To compensate for this shift, I must intentionally do a fewer number of things.

Internally this looks like more delegation and from where you sit, this looks like a smaller number of blog posts each week. However, each one will be more thoughtful and specifically-crafted to help you take the next step.

This era of content abundance means that you have plenty else to read. What I most hope is that each new free piece of content has a higher value and that you have more time to actually implement what you learn in your own scrapbooking.

Bottom Line: You can expect one blog post per week on average, generally on Tuesdays. Sometimes there will be more. I’ll likely post on the theme of “Around Here” on my personal Instagram account.

Around here I’m trusting what I’ve learned.

2016 marks a big shift in focus for the business.

As part of my internal conversations about content, I spent a lot of time thinking more broadly about how get to off the hamster wheel of more. More for the sake of more doesn’t do you any service.

So instead of being in constant development of new projects for new courses, I want to perfect a retreat-like, transformative virtual experience. And instead of hoping you’ll stick with it over six weeks, I want you to see results in just seven days.

The Refresh workshop series combines everything I’ve learned from you in the past seven years to offer a journey you can lean on to find your footing and keep your head in the clouds. It brings together a rotating suite of trusted and newly-developed exercises to help you intentionally plan, simply organize, and create with ease.

And as a Simple Scrapper member, you’ll not only enjoy Refresh four times a year but also receive support in between each session.

Bottom Line: A new session of the Refresh workshop will be held each quarter so that you can consistently feel focused, organized, and motivated. The January session is open for registration.

Continue Reading

Around Here | November 2015

On the last day of each month I’m sharing a personal recap that will also be included in my 2015 album.

simple art journaling

Around here I tried art journaling for the very first time.

Around here I finally achieved Gold Level status at Starbucks.

Around here we enjoyed attending a conference together in Memphis.

Around here I’m excited to follow along with December Daily.

Around here she seems to have grown another two inches overnight.

Around here we’ve already had snow and built three snowmen.

Around here I’m making cold weather an excuse for more coffee.

Around here she has circled what books she wants Santa to bring.

Around here we might finally hang some pictures on our walls, soon.

Around here today is the very last day to purchase an annual membership.

How did November treat you? I’d love it if you shared one highlight, challenge, or realization in the comments.

Continue Reading

Does Anyone Still Read?

I’ve been quiet recently, mostly because I’ve been teaching, but also because I’ve been reading and thinking.

I spent the last week leading a group of Simple Scrapper members through the beta edition of Refresh, my new seasonal workshop that resets your creative spark in seven days. It was challenging, eye-opening, and remarkable.

Though we’re still many weeks out from opening registration for the next session (to be held this January), there was something that bubbled up during the Refresh experience that I couldn’t wait to write about.

When Less is More

Since this was a beta run, the workshop was intentionally stripped down of bells and whistles. I wanted to focus on specific lessons and small activities that I know work well. My attention was on finding the right balance of introspection and action, rather than putting a spit-shine on the event.

Participants are just beginning to share their evaluations. And while there’s much praise for the experience, the reviews confirm that there are certainly improvements to make.

That was expected.

What has been most interesting, however, is what has not been said. In both the course discussions and the evaluations submitted to date, I’ve not heard any requests for more video or audio content.

I’m completely surprised and not surprised at all. Nearly every course I’ve taught in the past few years has included multiple videos and many also featured audio messages. Those things take time and were some of the key “bells and whistles” I chose not to include.

I assumed I would get at least one “How come there aren’t any videos this time?” comment. Nope.

As I began to marinate on this fact, I remembered that my best customers share a few things in common: they’re smart, thoughtful, have high expectations for themselves, and well-read. Well-read. Maybe there’s something to that.

I also recalled how I recently realized that librarians and teachers seem to be some of my very best students. They get how Simple Scrapper is different and value that I go beyond the surface.

That’s when it all became clear.

My audience likes to read. I’d even bet many of them like to read a whole lot, with stacks of books on their nightstand.

They value words and ideas and of course, stories. And while they may enjoy videos when there’s time and listen to podcasts while folding laundry, written lessons and exercises and discussions resonate the most—and are often also the most efficient format for consumption.

And as it happens, that’s also the format in which I communicate most effectively.

Are We Alone?

Recently I’ve read so many blog posts and heard even more podcasts discussing the shift from blogging to podcasts, videos, and social media. I would bet that at least one (likely more) of your favorite bloggers have stopped posting or post far less than they did before.

We’re in an era that rewards short attention spans with endless scrolling and autoplaying. As a whole we’re distracted and easily distractible. We give something a like or double-tap, but we can’t take the time to comment. And even amidst the endless flood of “content”, there’s effectively less to read so we don’t even have the chance.

With the emphasis on doing more and making it shorter (Periscope, Snapchat, etc.), some of the messages out there would leave you wondering if anyone still reads at all.

But the thing is, we do. We read. You’re reading.

I know it because you relished in the “What I’m Reading” storytelling prompts I shared with members recently. I know it because every time Kelly Purkey sells a book stamp it sells out in minutes.

I know it because you didn’t beg me for more multimedia content, content that you have find the time to consume so that you can check a box.

Reading is enough because words nourish you with meaning and genuine connection. Reading is your simple.

I’d love to hear your story in the comments. Are you an avid reader? What’s your preferred format for receiving workshop content?

Continue Reading

November Story Starter Challenge

For the past four years I’ve been releasing new storytelling prompts to members every month. This year, we’re celebrating each month’s theme with a Story Starter™ Challenge. You’re invited to create a layout and submit it for a chance to win a 3-month Simple Scrapper membership pass.


How to Participate + Win

Step 1 (optional) – Download this free story discover tool to brainstorm story ideas and make a plan for your layout.

Step 2 – Create a new layout, pocket page spread, or mini album related to this month’s theme: On the Table

Step 3 – Submit a photo of your completed work in the comments below by 11:59 pm on the 30th of this month.

This post will be updated on the 1st of next month announcing the winner of a 3-month Simple Scrapper membership pass. The winner will also be contacted directly with instructions on starting her membership.

Three Ideas from the Creative Team

Each of these layouts from our creative team uses a sketch or layered template from the membership along with one of this month’s twelve new Story Starters.

You can get instant access to a library of more than 400 Story Starter™ prompts when you become a member at Simple Scrapper.

This layout from Jamie Leija tells the story of her first Thanksgiving away from home.


This layout from Kimberly Kalil tells the story of when she and her husband did the Whole30 challenge. 


This layout from Sara Case Strickland  tells the story of her daughter’s love of lobster.


Now it’s your turn! Upload your layout by 11/30/15.

Congratulations to our November Story Starter Challenge winner – Valerie! We will contact you soon with instructions!

Continue Reading

Around Here | October 2015

On the last day of each month I’m sharing a personal recap that will also be included in my 2015 album.

Around Here | October 2015

Around here the month zoomed by faster than I expected.

Around here we are sad that the Cubs lost.

Around here I am so happy that I went to San Francisco.

Around here we’re super behind on all of our fall TV shows.

Around here I’ve realized I seriously need a new headshot since my hair and glasses are totally different now.

Around here I am continually amazed by how tall she is.

Around here the October sunsets were just incredible.

Around here she’s going to be Princess Luna for Halloween.

Around here I’m excited to beta test a new workshop with the members next week.

Around here I might make a radical change for 2016.

How did October treat you? I’d love it if you shared one highlight, challenge, or realization in the comments.

Continue Reading