Finding Catharsis with Scrapbooking

Jennifer Wilson

I’m your guide here at Simple Scrapper. Our community helps people find what fills you up and fits your life in memory keeping.

November 27, 2013

This is a guest post from team member Melanie Ritchie.

I scrapbook, therefore I am. The meaning of my life unfolds as I flip the pages of my albums. For a long time, I thought I loved scrapbooking just because of pretty papers. I thought the outcome was to have a record of my experiences. Now I know my love of the hobby goes much deeper. Scrapbooking is not just about the papers, the glitter, the photos, or the stories. It’s not even all about the completed project.

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Scrapbooking is also about the process. Making layouts makes me feel good. I become totally focused on my task. My mind gets lost in the creative challenge of choosing my words and composing a layout. That takes time. Time where my mind can wander, reflect, and process both the topic of the layout I’m working on and on issues I’m facing in my life. I work through my problems as I’m creating. Scrapbooking is an effective form of therapy.

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Scrapbooking is also an act of meditation. I’m focusing on the events in my life. I’m acknowledging the moment. Life is full of fleeting moments constantly coming and going. It is very hard to stop and just take it all in. As a scrapbooker, I’ve noticed I’ve become more interested in stopping to observe my life as it is happening. I’ve learned how to “stop and smell the roses”, whether it’s enjoying a smile on my child’s face, stopping to write down something funny that was said, or grabbing my camera because I just saw the oddest looking squirrel ever.

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I’ve become more attuned to really “seeing” what is around me: The way light falls in the afternoon; the frost on leaves during a morning walk; or the way my son whispers the alphabet under his breath as he watches TV. I’m more aware of details that bring beauty and joy into my life. When I place these captured moments on a layout, I’m practicing gratitude. I’m able to look at my experiences and be thankful for them. Life can be hard and exhausting even for the luckiest of people. I can allow myself to get dragged down by negativity. These little captured moments give me a reality check I often need. For that I am grateful. Life can be very good.

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On occasion, I consciously choose to do a layout about something very difficult in my life. I want to document the story but also I’m hopeful that I will glean some understanding and maybe a little closure through creating a layout. I cover topics such as: grief over loss of a loved one, the past, loss of childhood friends, anger at world issues, bullying, anxiety, and depression. I usually cry at some point while making the layout, but feel much lighter and healthier when the page is complete. I don’t seek out difficult topics but when a negative emotion is repeatedly tugging at my soul, it is time to figure out why I am so affected, and to put it all down on paper. Exposing the soul can be liberating.

Editor’s Note: Do you use scrapbooking as a form of therapy? Share your experience in the comments.

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7 Comments

  1. Megan

    I have been away from scrapbooking for 5 months and its killing me. I never thought about it to be this way but truly it is. I go to my space and my husband makes the kids leave me alone until I’m done and when I come out I’m much happier. I feel like I am lighter and can breath now. I have never done a page for negative things before. Focusing on the good in my life helps me realize the bad doesn’t effect me. The good will always be there u just have to find it in things. Like u said u have learned to stop and smell the roses. So have I. I LOVE this post.

    Reply
  2. Mollie Bryan

    This is why we scrapbook–even if some of us don’t realize it most of the time. Sometimes we are given the gift of lucidity, like the one you write about so eloquently. Bravo.

    Reply
  3. Laura Bashlor

    As I was digging through my linen closet I noticed my mother’s diaries. I have had these two 5-year books for many years but this time I decided to read through them. What a treasure. Most entries were just about going out with this or that group of friends. This was 1925-1935 and Mother was a teen “flapper” at the time. Then I came across the entries for 1931. The depression had hit the family hard as they moved from privilege to more modest living. That August her mother died at home from cancer. Her father became helpless from Parkinson’s Disease and died the following spring. Mother’s heart wrenching diary entries had to be saved. They were transcribed onto a scrapbook page to go into her Life Book.

    Reply
  4. Elaine J

    Boy…you hit the nail on the head! Ever since I started scrapping I have called it my therapy! Thanks for sharing! Elaine j

    Reply
  5. Carol White

    Thank you for being so open and vulnerable in this post. I truly believe scrapbooking is a form of therapy. Your sharing was a blessing.

    Reply
  6. Julie

    Absolutely therapy – and thoroughly recommended by my therapist! It actually helps me work through issues – past and current; allows me to play with paper and stickers and glue and all sorts of pretty things legitimately!! 🙂 I can document a year’s triumphs, sorrows, and everyday events, throw away everything else I had saved from it (major packrat syndrome) and feel free because all the memories are documented safely! And NOW science is even backing up what we crafters knew all along – crafting of any sort puts us in a place of flow, allowing us to forget about all else, releasing dopamine into our systems, relaxing us, and releasing the stress and tension we have been holding onto! So continue to scrapbook – it’s healing, it’s community, it’s art, and now even science agrees! 🙂 giggling

    Reply

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  1. My Scrapbooking therapy and a Giveaway!!! | Melanie Ritchie - […] was a guest blogger this week at Simple Scrapper. I shared my thoughts on scrapbooking difficult topics and how…

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