SYW113 – Comfort in Company with Grady Savage

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Who are you? There are clues in the communities you call home. In this episode I’m joined by Simple Scrapper member Grady Savage to talk about how communities shape our identity and the stories of our lives. You’ll hear how being a stepmom influenced her scrapbooking journey and the value of nostalgia in celebrating the communities of our past.

Discussion Prompt

Leave a comment below sharing your response to this week’s question.

What story do your communities say about you?

Links Mentioned

Grady Savage 0:00

In our family dynamic, it maybe doesn't look like what people would consider to be, you know, what I'm putting this in huge air quotes, but like normal. Like a first family and I feel like that, that adds extra importance to me to make sure our stories get told. Not in any like trying to prove it way or something but just because our stories are just as important and valuable as other people and their stories that they're telling about their families. And I feel like that importance just got really solidified for me.

Jennifer Wilson 0:30

Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way, the show that explores the breadth of ways to be a memory keeper today. I'm your host, Jennifer Wilson, owner of Simple Scrapper and author of The New Rules of Scrapbooking. This is Episode 113. In this episode, I'm joined by Grady Savage to chat about the journeys we take to feel more like ourselves, both in our solo creations and how we connect with others. This is one of my favorite episodes to date, because it really hits at the heart of what we all need, both online and in person.

Jennifer Wilson 1:07

Hey, Grady, welcome to the podcast. How are you?

Grady Savage 1:10

Hi, I am doing so well. I'm super excited and thankful to be here. So thanks for having me on.

Jennifer Wilson 1:17

Yes, I am so excited. We've connected on a number of topics that we will be discussing today. You're a Simple Scrapper member, and I am excited for our community to get to know you a little bit better. Can you just share some of those basics?

Grady Savage 1:32

Yeah, absolutely. So my name is Grady Savage. I live in New Hampshire lived in New Hampshire, besides for college, basically my whole life. I love it here. I am married. I've been married for five years to my husband, Christopher. And I have a stepdaughter Jess. So she's 16 now, she was seven when I met her. And she lives with us about 90% of the time. So she's full time through the school year. And then she's away to see her mom for about four to six weeks over the summer. So that's kind of what our family dynamic looks like.

Jennifer Wilson 2:04

Very cool. And what has been going on in your life right now over the pandemic.

Grady Savage 2:10

Oh, my gosh, what hasn't been going on, all of us are pretty much at home, all the time. We're super fortunate because my husband was actually working from home before the pandemic. So that transition for him was really easy. Because Jessica is a teenager, she's still virtual, but that really has been okay for her. She misses her friends. But schoolwork wise, you know, it's very different, I would imagine than having a younger kid, a kindergartner, first grader. She knows the technology and everything. So she's just doing, doing school at home. And we're kind of trucking along. My profession, normally, when it's not a pandemic, is I'm a stage manager in theater. So obviously, all of those productions closed and stopped. So I haven't been doing that. But it's given me a lot of time to really work on some other things, some work things in some kind of creative passion things. So I'll take it and we're all safe at home still kind of trucking along. Excited for, you know, the the light at the end of the tunnel that we're seeing. But that's kind of what's been going on with us.

Jennifer Wilson 3:13

Yeah, I think we're all have searched for silver linings this entire past year. And now with that, that light at the end of the tunnel that you say it's just it's kind of that there's almost even greater tension. You want the stress, the relief, the stress the the kind of evolution into the next phase. And then there's all the questions of, again of what is safe and what should we do? And it's just it's an interesting time for sure.

Grady Savage 3:38

Yeah, definitely. And I think it's interesting in an industry where everything depends on a crowd of people sitting indoors close together. So even though we're seeing a lot of light at the end of the tunnel, which I'm so grateful for, I cannot wait to see my parents, and I'll take that over anything, any day of the week. But it is strange because even seeing those steps is like okay, but I don't really know when I'm gonna be actually back to work. And it's okay, we'll make it work. But it's definitely been, yeah, there's definitely a lot of tension in that kind of middle space.

Jennifer Wilson 4:10

Yeah, I think you highlight something it's so interesting. Is that how I think the pandemic has given us this a new awareness of how each person as an individual, regardless of whether or not they're working outside the home. But how your life intersects with other people or doesn't, and what degree of that requires, you know, face to face contact and proximity. And that's not something we really ever thought about before. It's just kind of an interesting observation completely.

Grady Savage 4:42

Yeah, some things require, you know, more than you maybe would have expected and I feel like something's man people are getting really creative about figuring out how to make it work even even without that face to face. So it's definitely been, I think there's been some more creativity and a lot of places that we maybe wouldn't have ever seen before. So, just taking all that in.

Jennifer Wilson 5:02

I'm looking forward to kind of that, what I guess what innovations come out of this time that maybe stick. That people realize, oh, we could have been doing it this way all along?

Grady Savage 5:12


Jennifer Wilson 5:13

Because maybe this works even better than it did before.

Grady Savage 5:16

Absolutely. I think there's gonna be a lot of that for sure.

Jennifer Wilson 5:19

Yeah. All right, so that was just a tangent. So, foreboding of where our conversation is going. I know, we're gonna have a lot to discuss. But let's recenter here and what is exciting you in scrapbooking right now?

Grady Savage 5:32

Okay, but obviously, the real question here might be what isn't exciting in scrapbooking right now? Because I am very into so many of the projects and things that have been happening in the memory keeping world, even things I may be not personally participating in. I just love following along and seeing what people are doing and how they're creating. Personally, I've been super interested in scanning old family photos. So from my parents, and from Christopher's parents, and getting those digitized. I've been working on that project since pre, pre pandemic for probably at least a couple years. But having more time on my hands has definitely, you know, amped up that process. And I, I'm kind of nostalgic by nature. So I am just loving going through all those and hearing the stories and sending a picture out and saying, Tell me what what this is about. So that's been a really exciting thing for me.

Jennifer Wilson 6:26

I love that. And you know, there's a certain, sometimes I forget to take that extra step, I'll do the whatever, whatever the documentation part, or the scanning, the pulling together things in my little bubble of my office. But there's so much added value that you can get from having the conversations with family members. Even if they don't even have as much proximity to it as you'd like them to, they're going to know something or they're going to have their relationship to that image.

Grady Savage 6:54


Jennifer Wilson 6:55

And I think it's just so important to be having those conversations.

Grady Savage 6:58

Completely well, and it's fun to be able to do it. Obviously, I'd love to be able to have these conversations in person, but it's fun to be able to send something out and then get a response when somebody you know, in their own time, they can give you more info or you can talk more about it. That's been kind of a cool thing that in the past, I would have just waited and, you know, sat down and maybe gone through 50 photos, which might be a little overwhelming for my family members. But being able to send out one or two and just get kind of little snippets of the story. That's been so interesting,

Jennifer Wilson 7:26

I bet. And so I'm curious, what, do you have any lessons learned from doing all of the scanning? Like a trick that you can share, because this is a topic that comes up again, and again, with a lot of our members and in our community at large.

Grady Savage 7:41

Sure, yeah, I have no idea if others want to do this. But I was originally doing it with whatever I had on hand. So I was using an app or I was using a flatbed scanner. And both of those worked fine. But over the pandemic, I purchased a, like a feed scanner. And it's not the super fancy one that you can put 300 photos in and it goes really fast. That's amazing. But that was just out of our budget. But I got a feed scanner that still one a time but it's just way faster. And for me, it was worth it to save that time. And comparatively, it's not going to it still goes up to 600 dpi. But it's not going to be able to do the like crazy huge. But I looked at my priorities. And I went, it is more important to me personally, this might not be true for others. But it's more important to me personally to get those saved in some form than it is to get them saved perfectly. And so I just said, This is what I'm going to do. And we're going to go for it. And it's been amazing. And frankly, my family has not cared if I can blow it up bigger than eight by 10, or whatever that's just has not been relevant. Again, I'm sure for some people it might be but for me, just making that decision that like rather than wait and try to save up for this fancy schmancy thing. Or wait until a better time, we're going to get what we can get in and start getting these things, you know, saved in this way.

Jennifer Wilson 9:03

Yes, that's such an important point is what is the path that it provides the most acceptable results, the good enough results that will actually see the project, make progress or even get done? And sometimes those are the answers of what we thought we were going to do. And then the answer that comes out of that is very, very different. Because we have we can we realize we can make a compromise you how many times and this happens all time when we're like you're doing a doodle poll with friends. And they say well, I can't come if you do it that weekend and then but everyone else can you end up scheduling it. And then that one person that said they couldn't come they've found a way to make it, to make, to be able to come that weekend it seems to, you know most of the time always work out. We've, we find ways to compromise to accomplish the things that are important to us.

Grady Savage 9:51

For sure, for sure. And tempering those perfectionist tendencies, if you're a person who has those. I feel like once you have the results you're like oh man, why'd I take so long to even take this step. So that's been good for me to remember.

Jennifer Wilson 10:04

Yeah, especially when you're actually seeing the progress and like, oh my gosh, I wish I would have started this so much sooner. I feel that way with my doing my Lightroom photo book I like totally threw spaghetti against the wall all last year. And I'm like, why didn't I just do this thing that I had done before in the past? If I would have tried it the first time, I would have had a book in my hands by now, instead of trying to be going backwards and catching up from last year. So All right, what about your Bucket List? Is there a story that you know, that's really important to you that you really want to tell?

Grady Savage 10:39

Yes. Okay. I've been embarrassed about the fact that this question is coming up, because I think this is actually kind of common. I don't have a wedding album, I feel like this is super classic. I don't have an album of our wedding photos. I don't have a photo book, I don't have an album, I don't have anything. We have a lot of the photos around the house, which is great. And I think that counts for something for sure. But we don't have a finished album. And part of it is because our photographer was just straight up amazing. And she gave us almost 2000 photos, and I love you know, so many of them. Like even trying to decide to go through to put any online It was like, Oh my gosh, how are we gonna make this a small enough album to be able to post it. So that's a huge one on my Bucket List. And I definitely know that it's just because it's a major event. And so that feels pretty important. And I think it's really easy to be like, oh, that's too important for me to try to, to get this done and maybe mess it up. But it is on my radar to do for sure.

Jennifer Wilson 11:40

So here, here's a strategy that, that popped into my head. I guess something that I've done in circumstances like this in the past is that I kind of step outside my scrapbooker hat or I take off the scrapbooker hat and focus on okay, I just want to make a beautiful photo book. It doesn't even have to have words, because pretty clearly it's a wedding, right? People are getting married here. Maybe you have like the date in there somewhere. But can you just celebrate those photos. And then if you want to do something that's scrapbooking and more story, you can do that in a separate or different way at a later time.

Grady Savage 12:22

That's actually brilliant because, so I have one of those fill in the blank books from Becky Higgins. I don't know if you ever seen this? It's like a wedding album, like six by eight album. And it has all these questions, right? It's like, oh, who is your, your best man? And what was the weather like and all these things. And I have not, I have put photos in for all the categories and have not filled out a word in this thing. And I think it makes perfect sense to because I feel like it has to be perfect, right? Because it's the only thing I have for my wedding. But maybe I'm just, this is processing my head right now, maybe creating some kind of photo book that focusing on that will make me feel less stressed out about getting the words down, because that's not the only thing that I have of our wedding. So I'm definitely going to think about that. I think that's a great idea.

Jennifer Wilson 13:10

Yeah, there's, there's, there's always a way to maybe look at it a little bit differently. And I know that when it comes to like especially professional photos, they kind of end up, they feel like in a league of their own. Know whether they are or not, that's a whole that could be an hour discussion on its own. But it's okay to just celebrate them as beautiful things and let's make a beautiful thing that then can be shared with others and, and are not that our scrapbooking isn't beautiful, but it's clearly different. It's not we didn't create those photos. Someone else did.

Grady Savage 13:40


Jennifer Wilson 13:41

So yeah. So just something to think about.

Grady Savage 13:44

Wow. That's great. Yeah, I love that. I'm definitely gonna think about that, for sure.

Jennifer Wilson 13:48

Okay, so diving into the meat of this episode, this is a little bit of a different conversation. You know, I've tried to like community identity and storytelling and what what my kind of hypothesis here is, is that the communities that we're a part of, they can reinforce, give confidence in our own identities. And, and once we kind of once we really feel that identity, it helps us tell better stories about ourselves and document who we really are and who we want to become. And I think that community is such a part of that. And you're a member of different communities. And you know, this came up because you are a Simple Scrapper, member, but you know, your step mom, you are in theater, you know, I'm sure there's other communities we're going to talk about here today, too. And so I, I just thought this this, we can have a really meaningful conversation about this, you know, through your story, so I'm excited about it.

Grady Savage 14:48

Yeah, me too. Me too. I definitely think it's a huge part of all of our identities and storytelling, for sure. I think it's it's the communities we're a part of are totally woven into our lives.

Jennifer Wilson 15:00

Yes, yes, yes. So okay, kind of just to give some context, let's start with your background as a scrapbooker. When and why did you start scrapbooking?

Grady Savage 15:12

Sure. So I mentioned earlier that I consider myself nostalgic by nature. So I've been like the kid, I was the kid with the journal in middle school. And I taped the notes for my friends and I had photos in there. So I've sort of always done some kind of memory keeping, although to me that was just like, oh, write in my journal, you know, it didn't have a name. And then in 2011, I attempted to make a Project Life scrapbook, I had first heard of it. And I considered it incredibly unsuccessful. I don't actually consider myself super visually artistic. And so I got stressed, it wasn't looking like how I wanted it to be. It wasn't, it just wasn't what I wanted. So I gave up. And between, you know, around 2016, I was like, oh, maybe I'll try app scrapbooking. And I tried that a little bit and sort of nothing stuck. It's always been really important to me, you know, photos and stories, but finding a way to do it, it just never kind of felt right. And then in this pandemic, I got really more focused on getting more memories down on paper, I'm sure part of that was the scanning photos that I talked about. And I just decided, you know, what, what the heck, let's try paper scrapbooking. It's still, I still use pockets. But kind of the rest is history. I, it's funny, because I have heard a lot of people say that their 2020 albums are tiny, or they're boring, or they don't have anything in them. And my 2020 album, which is two albums, is literally the best thing I've ever made. It's so full, it has so much in it, because it was just tons of experimenting, and like figuring out what I like. And so that's kind of the when and why it's been a thing that's been present, but I only started really kind of focusing and digging in on it in the past year, year and a half.

Jennifer Wilson 17:00

Oh, that's interesting. So it sounds like it's been, you know, percolating in you. And you're just kind of waiting for that out, the right outlet to kind of and maybe circumstances to kind of coincide.

Grady Savage 17:12

Yeah, totally and the confidence, right. Like, like I said, I just don't necessarily see myself as super good visually. So I felt like, well, I don't know. And then when it just got to the point where I was like, listen, theatre, which is normally a huge creative outlet for me isn't happening. Let's just try it. Who cares what it looks like. And it's funny, because I feel like I've obviously grown and improved my skills by doing it. And that's the thing you don't always remember until you're doing the thing. So...

Jennifer Wilson 17:39

Oh, 100%. So just a pause here. I feel like that if you ever started like a rap duo, it would have to be called Nostalgic by Nature.

Grady Savage 17:47

Yeah. Oh, that's so good. Okay, I'm filing that in my brain for sure.

Jennifer Wilson 17:54

Now, okay, so are you, not concerned, but have you thought about the future? When life looks more normal for your like what it did in the past? How will you kind of balance time for scrapbooking?

Grady Savage 18:10


Jennifer Wilson 18:11

It feels like it's such a it's a big creative outlet for you. But you have other creative outlets that maybe you haven't been able to do. So how how will that...

Grady Savage 18:19

For sure, that's definitely been something on my mind, especially just now, like we talked about earlier with things sort of changing. But what I started doing in 2021, that's been awesome, is I just work on something memory keeping related for 15 minutes every day, at least. I know some people that works great. Some people that's the worst idea ever. But for me, it's great because I know I'm getting something done. And I'm not putting a huge pressure on myself to get everything done or be able to create as much or the same as 2020. And that's been helpful because even though we're still all at home, I've had more meetings and I've had more you know, I've just had more things open up even virtually as things are kind of planning for potential future. And so my schedule is already started changing and I think just having that like those few minutes to to center myself in it and know that I'm creating even if it's not creating everything under the sun that's really helped for sure.

Jennifer Wilson 19:16

So I'm curious, when was there a particular time of the day that you do this regularly? How do you make sure you get those 15 minutes in?

Grady Savage 19:24

Yeah, I am a night owl, like the classic night owl if I could stay up until 2am every night and sleep until 10am, I would. If that was like viable for schedules and, and I would totally thrive so I feel really creative at night. So it's kind of perfect that when things are winding down, I just make sure I get some time to do that. Sometimes I'll do things earlier in the day if I know my schedule is crazy or something but it actually works really well for me to do at the end of the day and it's kind of a good like wind down for my brain.

Jennifer Wilson 19:58

Oh, I love that. I I love that so much. And I think it's important to recognize that, you know, you may be listening to this episode, and what works for Grady isn't necessarily gonna work for you. So to think about what's your natural rhythm? And when maybe when could it serve you best to add this little, this little commitment to yourself and your creativity into your life?

Grady Savage 20:23

Yeah, for sure.

Jennifer Wilson 20:25

All right, so over the past year, how, what have you kind of started to understood about why why you enjoy this hobby and how it's important in your life?

Grady Savage 20:34

Yeah, for sure. So, you know, like I said, with being kind of the kid with a journal and everything, memories, and all that stuff has always been so important to me. But realizing in this year, the things I've focused on working on, so I simultaneously was working on 2020. And I also went back and did a 2012 album, like a Project Life style, but monthly. And I realized, when I was thinking about this, that 2012 is when Christopher and I started dating, so it's when I met Jess. And I chose to do that, because there are so many memories of when she was little and meeting her and just kind of like what that creation of a brand new family was looking like at that time that I really wanted to make sure I got down. And part of that, you know, I think is, is partially because in our family dynamic and maybe doesn't look like what people would consider to be you know, what I'm putting this in huge air quotes, but like normal, like a first family. And I feel like that, that adds extra importance to me, to make sure our stories get told, not in any like trying to prove it way or something. But just because our stories are just as important and valuable as other people and their stories that they're telling about their families. And I feel like that importance just got really solidified for me this year. And I think that's going to be a huge part of what I continue to focus on moving forward.

Jennifer Wilson 21:59

Oh, I love that. And, and I know we're gonna get into more of that later in the conversation. I see so much of that in my own story, because I became a scrapbooker really, when I dabbled before, but when I got married and you know, was kind of thrown into a blended family with two teenage boys and a large dog and I had to kind of find myself again, within that new context. And find out what was important to me and how was I gonna to document my own story as I was kind of recreating it, you know, I picked up and moved across the country and inserted myself into this family that was already there.

Grady Savage 22:40

Yeah. 100%.

Jennifer Wilson 22:43

All right, so kind of shifting gears here to talk a little bit more about your personality, your identity, we had this conversation, just I guess it was yesterday or two days ago?

Grady Savage 22:54

A couple days ago, I think. Yeah.

Jennifer Wilson 22:57

And so I had reshared, this Cocoa Daisy post with a little Project Life card that said, introverted but willing to discuss plants. And I think I have like a fantasy self where that's accurate. But the reality is I do not have a green thumb. Like I only am allowed to have fake plants here in my office, because anything that comes in here dies, you and me. And I have like really great lights and everything. And it's just I'm just not a very good plant mom. But I said that my card should say introverted but willing to discuss scrapbooking, curly hair products, or Adam Scott. Not the golfer, the one from Parks and Rec.

Grady Savage 23:34


Jennifer Wilson 23:36

Yes. And you replied almost instantly with your version of that. So can you tell me what you said?

Grady Savage 23:42

Yeah, for sure. I loved that. I loved that quote. And I thought it was a really fun way to just like I don't know, jump in with like, oh, man, what can I discuss on a whim? Right? And so I responded back with introverted which is true, but willing to discuss step parenting, scrapbooking, and summer camp.

Jennifer Wilson 24:00

Yeah. And then I was so, I knew like, I knew this obviously the step parenting part, but I was not. I didn't know anything about the summer camp part. So you can you tell us more about that?

Grady Savage 24:09

Yeah, absolutely. So I have been involved in summer camp in a leadership position of some kind, since I was a teenager, since I was a counselor in training, which I think you're 17 when you do that. And I've done it ever since I've been a counselor, I've been a, you know, CIT leader. I've been a camp director. So I'm kind of run the gamut of experience within that role. And it's funny because just like the card said, I'm very introverted. And I also frankly, consider myself pretty awkward around adults. I feel like I don't always know what to say. But with kids, it just feels easy and it feels really comfortable. I don't know if it's because I have so much experience working with them or I do have a background in education or if it's kind of all of the above. But it's funny because my comfort level with kids even like a Zoom meeting with five adults versus like running a Zoom camp meeting is just leaps and bounds. My comfort level is totally different.

Jennifer Wilson 25:08

Oh, 100% I totally agree. Leading Zoom Girl Scout meetings is much, sometimes much more, less intimidating.

Grady Savage 25:18

For sure.

Jennifer Wilson 25:18

Than leading something with a bunch of adults. So are it's so interesting, because and I wonder if, if maybe part of this is just like growing up in New Hampshire and you think of just, you know, the New England summer camp experience?

Grady Savage 25:33


Jennifer Wilson 25:34

I just, I don't, that thing that that entity doesn't exist in the same way through other parts of the country. So I was wondering if that kind of maybe is part of it. So I'm assuming you went to summer camp prior to becoming a counselor and training.

Grady Savage 25:51

So it's funny, I actually only went to summer camp for one year, I was a camper for one year, and then I became staff. But also, to be fair, the summer camp that I first got into camps with was a theater summer camp. So I would explain it to people like oh, yeah, you expect, you know, on the first day, I showed up the first day of camp, my one year as a camper. I showed up with a sleeping bag. And you know, and the other girls in my cabin had like, full comforters and decor. And I was like, oh, like, looks totally awesome. And like, up my alley, but just very funny. Because it's not necessarily what you would think of when you think of summer camp. It was more, you know, you're doing dance lessons and singing, then, you know, canoeing on a lake.

Jennifer Wilson 26:39

Oh, sure. Yeah, I didn't think of it that way. That's interesting. Well, it's, it's interesting, too. I've had so many experiences, especially growing up where you finally kind of find your people. And maybe this is a good connection to this idea of community is that when you are like in embedded with your people, it's a totally different experience than maybe where you're there's a much larger diversity of different types of interests and groups and communities. Whereas like, I know, I went to, I was a math club nerd. And so we went to math competitions, and we'd spend our whole weekends and we'd spend our, you know, after school and evenings practicing, and we were just doing math for fun. But we were in our element. And we were with our people.

Grady Savage 27:24

And everyone was doing math for fun. Yeah, my husband did Academic Decathlon and he.

Jennifer Wilson 27:29

Oh, I did that too.

Grady Savage 27:31

Yeah, he's like, to get together a new degree. Alright, well, I was like, making up theme songs with my friends. But same idea.

Jennifer Wilson 27:38

Yeah. No, but there's there is something to that. It's like when you when you can find your people. And I definitely feel that same way with scrapbooking. Because I'm, I'm a total introvert, I can't make small talk. Like I can barely talk about the weather. Somebody asked me about gas prices. I'm like, I don't know, my husband gets the gas. Like, I can't do small talk. But if you put me in a room with a bunch of scrapbookers, we're going to talk about paper, we're going to talk about embellishments. We're going to talk about how the heck did we store all those punches? And you know, or how to use Photoshop, like it's, there's when you have something in common, it can jumpstart a conversation and put put people at ease

Grady Savage 28:17

1,000%. And there's that shared language already. And there's that shared experience. And obviously, that's still going to be varied with what in that industry or in that community, makes sense. But still, there's that understanding and that shared language that can just totally jumpstart a conversation and a comfort level, like immediately within a group, which is awesome.

Jennifer Wilson 28:35

Yeah. And I think that's one of the things I love about social media, because we'll put posts out there, and we'll share memes. And it's like, almost this way of amplifying our identity. It's like a beacon that we put out there says are you like me? Is this you too? And it makes you feel more connected even to people who are strangers. I don't know about you, but I have some people on Facebook or I don't, I know that I've never met them in person. But I don't know exactly how I met them online. We've just been friends on Facebook for a while

Grady Savage 29:04

Connected somehow.

Jennifer Wilson 29:06

Yeah, but we know we have things in common. And I like I like this person's posts. And I always, you know, make a comment or press the like button or whatever. Because I feel connected by the ways that we're similar that we are that something that we like something we do a community we're in or a way that we you know, agree on an issue or something.

Grady Savage 29:25


Jennifer Wilson 29:27

So we've mentioned that you and I share this experience of step motherhood. I'm curious, how has your identity as a stepmother shifted over time? From when you first started dating your husband and you met just to today?

Grady Savage 29:42

Oh, yeah. Oh my gosh, hugely. So in the beginning. I feel like so much was just trying to figure out the dynamics and that was, you know, within our family, so where I fit in where I wanted to fit in, where sort of where other people viewed how I fit in everything. Just felt a lot more unsure. And, you know, what do I call myself? What's my role in the family? How much? Or how little do I parent, there's just so many questions. And I feel like that shaped my identity in sort of, like, let's figure this out sort of way in the beginning. And now years later, it's almost been a decade, right. And our family is so much more solid. And we just have so much shared experience and shared family identity. And we have a really strong dynamic and my identity as a step mother has just completely solidified. And also something that has always been true about me in regards to step motherhood, but I feel like I've really embraced it just more and more and more and more and more, is I'm so proud of it. There is no shame at all to me and being a step mom, I love the word step mom, it doesn't bother me. I feel like I'm like on a one woman mission to take back the words step mom from being like an evil stepmom to something awesome. I think our relationship's really special. I love having a stepdaughter, I don't see that as like an insulting thing to say. And I've, I've never felt like that was bad. But I feel like just the more time and the more our family has grown. And the more I've just gotten comfortable with it. I feel like that's something that has solidified to and that so that has grown as a bigger and bigger part of my identity just because my comfort with it has just grown and grown and grown.

Jennifer Wilson 31:26

Yes, for sure. What is the point that you make about language? I've seen you make several posts on Facebook about kind of gathering feedback and seeing how people use language and the way it makes them feel? Why do you think it's important to to have those conversations and to kind of retake the word stepmom or stepdad?

Grady Savage 31:47

Yeah, oh, my gosh, well, I think there's so much weight to the words that we use good bad, otherwise. There's so much to the words that we use. And I think for a step family, which might you know, if you're not in that community, this might feel like an overreaction. But I can promise you that those words have a ton of weight. And you can be criticized for using the words you can say, Oh, you, you know, you call your stepdaughter, your stepdaughter. You really should treat her like you're, you know, there's just there's a ton of weight around this language. And I think that it's important that we acknowledge that. And I think that within anybody's family, like whatever terms, feel the most comfortable and right for them is totally fine. So if, if stepmom or stepchild doesn't feel right to your family, I'm certainly not saying you know, I don't care, you should use it. But I think that knowing that there's weight to this language, but also knowing that there's just a huge misconception about stepmoms in particular step families in general, but step moms in particular. And I'm sure there's a million reasons for that, but knowing that that's there, and then being willing for me, because I'm comfortable with it, I'm totally willing to be like, I'll be the example of a stepmom who really is just into her role, like, understands that it's different than maybe a biological or a first family, mother figure. And I'm willing to just kind of step in and jump in with both feet for that. And if somebody isn't, that's totally fine. But I think acknowledging that that language is so heavy, and can really like, be a big deal for people is the first step, right. It's just we have to acknowledge that it's a thing in order to work through it.

Jennifer Wilson 33:31

That's for sure. I mean, we've had a lot of conversations about Emily and her brothers, and we just call them her brothers. They're her half brothers. But that part didn't make sense. But they call me their step mom, I call them my step sons. And that's what feels comfortable. And, and I think seeing you and and having these conversations has made, I guess, helped even solidify that further and give myself confidence in you know, we have to make our own decisions. But to embrace the identity that we have, and that those really each relationship between every individual is very unique, and very special in its own way.

Grady Savage 34:07

Yeah, completely. It's funny that you say that too, because Jess has an older, you know, technically half sister, her mom has another daughter. And it's very similar. You know, she's her sister, and that's what we would say, for that dynamic. But for the sort of stepmom stepchild relationship that's super comfortable for us. And, and she and I have talked you know, especially as she gets older and older, she and I have talked about that. And I always want to check in because sometimes that language can be weighed. I want to make sure she doesn't think I'm like, no, this is my stepdaughter in some sort of bad way. But because we've been able to be open about it, it's you know, always just been something that's okay to be on the table and talk about and how is that feeling and I think that really helps too. If there's a lot of emotion around something, it can be tempting to not bring it up, but I think it actually helps to bring it up and kind of be able to figure that out in an honest way with your family.

Jennifer Wilson 35:03

For sure. I'm curious. And you know, I've not listened to your podcast because to be honest, since I started my own, I've listened to a lot fewer podcasts. Because I spend all that time editing this one.

Grady Savage 35:15

Oh, yeah, for sure.

Jennifer Wilson 35:16

I'm curious, has Jess been a guest on your podcast?

Grady Savage 35:19

She hasn't, she hasn't been a guest. She's actually an incredibly shy kid. So that's not something that we're gonna be in a comfort level, I would totally be willing if that was something she'd be willing to do. But I think if that happened, it would be years down the line, just kind of knowing what her comfort level is like, talking to people she doesn't know.

Jennifer Wilson 35:37

Oh, sure. That makes sense too. I was just yeah, just that, I love how you are kind of honoring, as I said, the specialness, the uniqueness of these relationships and the fact that the you're kind of giving a voice to to this community. So you have a podcast and a community first stepmoms, why do you think this is so needed?

Grady Savage 35:57

Oh, my gosh. Well, you know, the reality is, and I don't want to speak for everyone. But step motherhood is hard. It's amazing. My family is the best thing on the planet. It is also the hardest thing I've ever done. Point blank, hands down, hardest thing I've ever done. And people who aren't stepmoms, they just don't get it. And I don't expect them to because they haven't lived it, right. But when I was first dating my, you know, husband, now, I was looking for resources. And so many of them and I am not being hyperbolic, so many of them quite literally were like run. I was like, well, that does not help me at all. So I realized pretty early that if I couldn't find a community that was a good fit or content that felt helpful, I guess I was gonna have to make it myself. And so it's funny, because I think the community piece for any community, you know, that we're discussing is so important. I have to tell you, Jennifer, that when I found out that you were stepmom, I can't even begin to tell you how stoked I was. I think I just saw the post or something. But knowing that that connection exists, can help, can help immensely with like, feeling less alone and knowing there are other people in it. And, you know, I don't know if you've run into this. But so much of stepmotherhood is just really complicated. And it can mean so much to talk with people who they already have that baseline of understanding to the trials, to the wins, to the pain, and complications of building a stepfamily. And like what we were talking about earlier of that shared language. And that shared understanding, I think, like having a community for folks who get it and you don't have to discuss the six levels, just to get on the same baseline because they already know it, because they're a stepmom, I think that just makes a world of difference.

Jennifer Wilson 37:49

Oh, 100%. And I think back in, in 2008 and 2009, when I was very good that whole first year I could have, I could have used something like that. So even just understand expectations and complications. And obviously, you know why the two biological parents are not together and their relationship is a part of that. And yeah, I think having, having other people who've been through that would have been so amazing for me, because, you know, I feel like I'm kind of on the other side of it now, especially now that that my stepsons are out of the house. But those the growing up years and dealing with like birthdays and holidays and graduations, it's you know, that it's complicated.

Grady Savage 38:33

And you jump right in, you jump right in, you're like, oh, you already have things you do already? And how do I feel about them? And where do I fit there? Yeah, so much.

Jennifer Wilson 38:43

Well even just I'm sure, like innovative solutions, here's how we've made it work so that it's comfortable for everyone. And then you can bring that back to your family like, hey, I have this idea would this work for everyone. And then you talk about it and you will find out if it would or not, but just to to learn from those experiences, I think would be so valuable.

Grady Savage 39:03

Totally, totally.

Jennifer Wilson 39:07

Kind of going back to your, to your memory keeping. And you've you mentioned that you know, you really only kind of like dove in with with a passion in this past year, but you'd been dabbling. How has memory keeping supported your your growth and your identity as a stepmom over the past decade?

Grady Savage 39:30

Yeah, well, I think, you know, again, I've done a lot of memory keeping that's not maybe in the traditional sense of scrapbooking, but I did begin writing a blog when I started this journey, like literally my mom was the only one who read it, but just like to get down a lot of these stories and experiences. And I'm so grateful for that now because a lot of those feelings even from something from you know, three or four years ago. I read it, I'm like, oh my gosh, I remember that but I, I wouldn't have maybe been able to express it now. And so having all of those things written down, it has been super helpful for kind of noticing that growth and development. But I also think that the changes in my life and my identity of being a stepmom have impacted my need for memory keeping. It's just like I said earlier, it's just so important to me that our family story is taken down and remembered in that Jess as a kid, right? There's all these studies about kids feeling valued and loved and appreciated in their family. And I think it's even more complicated when maybe that family looks, looks a little bit different than families around them. And I think it just became more and more important to me that that was solidified as part of our story, and that we had kind of all of these memories somewhere besides my head or my phone. So I think that's a big part of it.

Jennifer Wilson 40:49

What I think that most connects with me in terms of where, what photos and where that I choose to place in my house, and where I choose to place them and how that reflects how I'm kind of honoring what, who lives in the home as well as who's part of our family all together. Yeah. And you know, my, Steve and I really put a really big role in making sure that the boys are in every single room and that they're on the wall. So they are part of our family, even though they are you know, they're adults and living their own lives.

Grady Savage 41:19

Right. Yeah, I think that's really key too. And like even fostering just those relationships and validating them, like you said, with Emily and her brothers, and just kind of having those things front and center, it's been helpful because my family like my, you know, nuclear family has been so incredibly accepting of Jess and of Chris and our relationship and our family dynamic. And, and so we have family photos, and we have photos of Jess. And I have two siblings, only one of them has one child. So the two kind of grandkids are Jess who's 16, and my nephew, Aiden, who's five. But we have lots of pictures of them together and they're cousins and like just sort of celebrating all of those family dynamics and, and making sure that they're present, you know, visually present in our house and in in the stories and memories that that I keep and kind of take down.

Jennifer Wilson 42:15

Yes, yes. Well, and I think that's one of the other reasons why I wanted to have you on the show is that, and we could do this with so many of our guests. So we all have families that look a certain way. And it's important that we celebrate that that family is how you define it. And this is our family of choice. And all families are beautiful, and we are documenting and sharing of those only just helps others see. See that beauty?

Grady Savage 42:47

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think it can also help others be more confident in in their families and feeling like oh, yeah, okay. Like, other people maybe have these complicated dynamics, it doesn't make anybody's family better or worse. It just is. and kind of just having that out in the open and being an important part of all of us telling our stories, I think can make a difference.

Jennifer Wilson 43:10

Yes, yes, we all have modern families today.

Grady Savage 43:15

For sure.

Jennifer Wilson 43:17

All right. So what what other communities whether it's online, mostly online today, in the pre pandemic world, have you been a part of over the years, like can you kind of run it down?

Grady Savage 43:31

Yeah, for sure. So, in, you know, I spoke about this, but in non COVID times, I work in the theater, and I'm a stage manager currently, but I've been in the theatre community for almost 25 years since I was a little kid, you know, third grade, or whatever. And I both performed and did crew and design elements. I was in band and chorus in high school. And both those things were really important to me. And then honestly, and we can get into this a little bit further, of course, but delving into this memory keeping hobby that I've had this sort of secret interest in for years, but didn't feel confident enough to pursue it until like I said, about a year ago in any kind of way where anyone else knew what I was doing. That really truly the impact of being in a community like Simple Scrapper. It's really been really massive. I think just being around people who understand your passion, and then also encourage you even even when or maybe, especially when, you're still trying to figure it all out. That has made a huge impact on me and my confidence in trying new things, in finding an identity, in being confident about what I'm doing, why I'm doing it. So I feel like a lot of the communities have helped me kind of move forward and give me confidence in who I am and what I'm about.

Jennifer Wilson 44:54

What I guess I wanted, I want to toot our horn here is I think that's that's part of our secret sauce of what we do, maybe that's a little bit different than other scrapbooking communities is that we're about helping you figure out your way. That's why this podcast is called Scrapbook Your Way. And helping you feel confident. And this is how I want to show up as a scrapbooker, today. In the way in this season of life that I'm in, and I can recognize that that might change, it'll evolve, it should and it will. But we're gonna, we're gonna lift you up and celebrate what what you love and help you get towards your goals rather than telling you that you should be doing it this way, or your goals should be these.

Grady Savage 45:36

Yes, I completely agree. And like you don't have to toot your own horn, but like I'll toot it for you, beep beep. Because like, it has been amazing to see the impact just personally on having that community around me. And like I said, like, I would never have posted anything publicly about anything I was working on. As a person who considers myself more like musically artistic than visually artistic. I see these people with these amazing projects. And like, I don't even know how your brain knew to do that. Because I'm like, how do I make this color look nice on this photo, like I just, you know, especially in the beginning really had no, like little to no confidence about that. But being in the community of people who they're not just like blowing smoke, like, oh, everything you do is amazing. It's not that sort of thing. It's just encouraging everyone with what works for them. And so there's just a really honest, genuine engagement. And people are not afraid to say, hey, that's totally like, not what I would do, I would do this, but like, I love that you tried this thing. And I just feel like the community is really genuine, because people aren't having to act like their style is something else, or their favorite technique, or product is something else, they're just able to say, this is what I'd like to do. I don't care if nobody has done this in three decades, this is what I do. And I love it. And everyone around them is like, dang, that's awesome. And I think that's been huge.

Jennifer Wilson 46:57

Oh, 100%. Well and it can take encouragement to to get to the point of not caring to let go and to just show your, show your authentic self in a community online. There's a certain expectation, or that you have to be good enough, whatever that is, to to share your work. And I mean, your pages are amazing. And I'm, I'm I'm not gonna say I'm curious, I'm actually assuming that you're training in theater, your experience in music, and all of the other ways that you've been creative, has kind of given you, I don't know, just like, baseline muscle for for scrapbooking to be able to jump in and try new things. And to be able to make connections between the your photos, the words and the stuff,

Grady Savage 47:51


Jennifer Wilson 47:51

I think however we practice, creativity makes us more flexible and nimble.

Grady Savage 47:56

Yeah, I never thought of it like that. But that's really interesting. And I also think, right, like, so much of trying new things is making sure that we're talking to ourselves, and not saying, like I've said on this podcast several times, because it's true is that I never considered myself a visually creative person. And it's like, well, why, like, did you just decide that and then not, and then just be like, well, that's the truth. And I think I did. And so I think, trying something new and just being like, well, you know what, whatever, like, let's just try it has actually helped me, feel free to just make something and like it and even if nobody else would like it, whatever. But also to get to actually get better. Because I'm doing it I think thinking about it and then going by you're bad at that completely stops you from getting better at it. Like even whether it was true or not, you know, which probably it isn't. But even if it is, well, you're not gonna get any better by just going well, I guess I'll never ever try that skill.

Jennifer Wilson 48:54

Well, there's also you had to identify that. It's not that you're not visually creative. Maybe you just haven't expressed yourself in that medium. You haven't. You just haven't done it. You don't have any anything to base it on. Right? So it's a different thing to say to yourself, though. I don't have experience in that domain versus I'm not good at that thing.

Grady Savage 49:16

Yeah, yeah. 1,000%. And realizing also that like, there's nothing wrong, like having no experience with something just means you have no experience. It doesn't mean anything bad about you. Or like dang, you should be so good at this by now. Like why it's new.

Jennifer Wilson 49:31


Grady Savage 49:32

When you're new at something, you're usually not good at it. And that's fine. Like, that doesn't mean anything it means you're learning.

Jennifer Wilson 49:38

Well, yeah, it means you're human too.

Grady Savage 49:40

Oh, yeah, there's that I guess.

Jennifer Wilson 49:43

Well and just this idea and we're talking about your your past experience. I was thinking of this idea of cross training, you know, and I like whether you not you like Tom Brady and I'm sure in New England you have a perception of Tom Brady. But you know, he's he's known for like doing meditation and yoga and ballet and obviously those that's not practicing football in quotes, but that's cross training so that his his muscles stay nimble and pliable so that he can do the things he needs to do to be still Tom Brady at his age.

Grady Savage 50:14

Yeah. Yeah, that's such a good point. Now, I'm now going through my head of like, oh, what what things have been cross training for me, for this? This probably a lot.

Jennifer Wilson 50:24

Yeah, no, I'm, I think this this could be a whole 'nother conversation. I'm very, I don't think I've used those words before related to this. And now I'm very excited to explore more.

Grady Savage 50:35

Yes, write that down! Don't forget it. That's really good.

Jennifer Wilson 50:38

We've, we've touched on something that I think is really juicy. But okay, going back to community, How do you think we can be better community members or, or community leaders, because we're all, we're all both. Oftentimes, at the same time, sometimes in the same communities, we're members and leaders of that community. And I certainly feel that way about Simple Scrapper. But we all play a role in all the communities we're part of. I think of it as these we're a you know, like a bubble diagram, but we have us in the center, and then you kind of go out to these different circles, where you intersect with others. And that's these little communities that you're a part of. And sometimes you're in a leadership role. And sometimes you're just you're a member, and you're responding to other leaders, how can we be more effective in doing that in ways that that support our identity and growth?

Grady Savage 51:31

Yeah. Yeah, dang, this is such a big question. I think something? Well, I think you touched on this, but when you're a community member, you kind of are a community leader, regardless, because your, the way you approach things and your, you know, responses affect the whole community, right. So I think that's a good thing to remember. But I also think something that I try to do, and this could just be because I get nervous, but I just assume that anyone who's sharing something is like, potentially really nervous. And so that helps me because it helps me to remember to respond with the grace and support that I would if I knew somebody was really nervous, right, and, and that could be somebody, you know, online sharing scrapbook layout for the first time. Or it could be somebody discussing a complex dynamic with their family or anything in between. And I don't at all mean in like a fake way. Like, I think you should always respond in a way that's honest to you and to who you are. But I also think keeping in the forefront of my mind, that like, wow, this might be, you know, to me, this might just seem, oh, they shared a random thing that they did cool. But keeping in mind that they might have actually sat there in front of a computer or, you know, sat by the phone waiting to call you for 30 minutes being like, maybe I shouldn't do this, I think it helps me be a better community member and a better leader, whether it kind of officially or just knowing that it makes an impact. Because I realized that what I do and say can have can have a serious impact on somebody. And I hope that that helps to nurture the identities of others, because I think feeling cared about and supported is a huge way to help people grow in what their true identity is and who they truly are. So I, I hope that that's helpful. But that's kind of a thing that I think about when somebody is sharing something, whether just in person or online is just being like, hey, this might have been even if it would have been an easy thing for me to share, maybe it'd be really hard for them and just kind of trying to approach it with that sort of grace in my response.

Jennifer Wilson 53:42

Yes, yes. And I think that I've learned recently, and I don't know where I've heard this, but to ask the question of, are you asking for advice? Or would you like advice rather than giving unsolicited advice, because somebody might just want support or encouragement thumbs up, you know, a cheer, and others are actually posting this thing, because they want advice. They just didn't explicitly say that. So to asking for that clarification can't just only strengthens the relationship between you and that person you're interacting with, as well as kind of fosters a community expectation, the more people that do that, the more that others will do that. And the more we can make sure that our, our needs as community members are being met, and we're being effective as community leaders do.

Grady Savage 54:29

Yeah, that's such a good point. And just being able to, I think, ask that question, or, you know, ask whatever question is appropriate for that for the scenario at hand, can also just help because it's being genuine. It's, hey, I want to actually be a help to you. And I don't want to say something that's going to be totally not a help to you. So you know, can you give me a little guidance on what you're looking for? I think that can that actually totally opens up conversation in a way that like you're not a mind reader. You don't know. And just going by your assumption, you know, you could get it wrong and actually could be, you know, give the opposite of what you were hoping for. So I love that you said that that's such a good thing to keep, you know, kind of in the forefront of your mind.

Jennifer Wilson 55:11

Well, I think that it applies to relationships too. And you saying, I'm not a mind reader relates to that, because my husband has said that to me before. And we've started doing this thing where I will, like, if I need, I just need a hug, I will make that clear, I just need a hug. Even if I'm coming to you, and I'm sharing a problem. I have to be clear, do I want you to try to fix it? Or do you just want me to give you a hug and tell you it's gonna be okay.

Grady Savage 55:37


Jennifer Wilson 55:38

And so when it comes to our relationships with our people in our lives, I think that it, it also can be really helpful.

Grady Savage 55:47

Oh, my gosh, I feel so okay, I was super quick story. So I feel super strongly about this. And something that I see this happens a lot with stepmoms is Mother's Day, right? It's a very hard day, often for stepmoms is complicated. And sometimes at the end of the day, folks are like, nobody acknowledged me, it was horrible. I felt awful. And that does not feel good to be in that scenario. But something that's always been really important to me is I don't find it unromantic to say that I want something and so I'm okay with saying, hey, it's really important to me that you get me a card, or you know that you acknowledge me or whatever that is, it's super important to me, that you do that. Because to me, that's not unromantic. It's it's actually like super romantic. When then he does the thing. I'm like, Oh my gosh, see, you listened to me, I asked for something. And like, to me, that's, that's awesome. That's even better than like, crossing my fingers and hoping he'll remember my anniversary. Right to me, I like oh, no, let's talk about it so that we can both get what we need in this relationship. And I don't think that's only for romantic partners. I think in general, just realizing that like, it actually can be extra special to state what you want, and then have that person do it. Because it means they're listening, and they're hearing and they want to give you what you need. And I think it's easy to romanticize like, he just knew exactly what I wanted. But it's like, well, if the alternative is you're going to be sad all day, because you know, this expectation was placed that maybe isn't fair. Maybe you should just say that you want that. And then and then you both can be happy and feel like you've done you've done your best for your relationship. So I'm all about that. I love that. You say, hey, I need a hug right now. I think that's great.

Jennifer Wilson 57:33

Yeah, what I think so many challenges and resentments could be prevented if we were if we better communicated our needs. I mean, underlying theme of so many different things in life, we all communicated a little bit better about the facts behind the situation. For sure.

Grady Savage 57:56

Yeah. Oh, completely. I love that. Oh, good. It's It's so applicable to online interactions in person interactions, close relationships, newer relationships, it's like, just being being open about expectations, I think can make a huge difference and a huge impact in in the way that those relationships move forward.

Jennifer Wilson 58:16

I don't know if you participate in Thursday three, but I've had, I've talked to several people about why they started and I like it, because it was an opportunity to just share something that was real. It felt like so the opposite of so much of social media, where we're just trying to share the curated thing. Whereas this is a picture of me as I am right now. And three things that are actually real life going on for me that I care about. And that's it's it's, it's brave and bold to to do that. And to just say, here's, here's me, here's what I need. And it's that's the best way to be authentic about your own identity is to be to literally be it, I guess.

Grady Savage 58:59


Jennifer Wilson 59:00

I don't know, getting kind of crazy.

Grady Savage 59:01

No, I love in within your community, like just being like, hey, here I am. And this is this is me. I've never done Thursday three. And I think I might have I think this is my challenge. I think you just you just inadvertently called me out. I think I got to make a make a wedding photo book and I got to do Thursday three, because I'm feeling really motivated right now.

Jennifer Wilson 59:19

Well, I personally and I will lift our entire Simple Scrapper community to supporting you in both of those goals. So we will encourage you along the way.

Grady Savage 59:30

Thank you.

Jennifer Wilson 59:33

Well, great. This has been such an amazing conversation. I really appreciate your time.

Grady Savage 59:37

Thank you so much for having me on here. I have been so excited to chat with you and I just care so much about community and I know that you do and what you have built and facilitated at Simple Scrapper. It's just like this. It's just this amazing thing. It goes beyond just scrapbooking. I have to tell you folks out, you know, I was away for a little bit and folks reached out and I'm pretty new and folks reached out and said, hey, I'm just checking in. I was like, actually, yeah, some life stuff is going on. And so really, you've just created something. Just, I think above and beyond what somebody is expectations might be joining like a scrapbooking community. So I just hope you know that because it's really something special, and I really appreciate it. Personally, I know tons of other members feel the same.

Jennifer Wilson 1:00:21

Thank you. Thank you so much for saying that. I'm, I'm very proud of it. And it's really the all of us together is what makes it work.

Grady Savage 1:00:29

Yeah, absolutely. Heck yeah.

Jennifer Wilson 1:00:32

All right, and to all of you listening, please go away and remember that you have permission to Scrapbook Your Way. If you liked the podcast, you'll love being a member. When you join, you'll get access to weekly Zoom crops, bimonthly retreats, and a huge content library. You can head over to to learn more and join our creative community.

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