What role does creativity have in your mental health and wellness plan?
In this episode Amy Melniczenko shares her journey of moving past personal challenges to embrace the work of becoming more herself. I reached out to Amy because I had noticed a big shift in her memory keeping and wanted to peel back the layers of that beautiful blossoming.
Amy has been part of our Simple Scrapper team since 2013, serving as creative team leader for most of that time. You previously heard her on the episode 39 of the podcast where she discussed the intersection between her reading and crafty lives.
- Distress Oxide inks (*)
- Stamp Your Story Live
- Ali Edwards stamps
- Heidi Swapp stamps
- Paper Person stamps
- SYW039 – For the Love of Reading
- The 100 Day Project
- Jennifer’s #GoodCraftyMorning
- Amy’s scrapbooking Instagram
- Amy’s book Instagram
- Join our Creative Community
(*) Affiliate link
Amy Melniczenko 0:00
And I realized that I had to shift to a place of taking care of myself if I was going to be able to be what my family needed me to be. And part of that was creativity.
Jennifer Wilson 0:14
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 124.
Jennifer Wilson 0:27
In this episode, I'm joined by Amy Melniczenko to discuss how she used memory keeping as a tool to become a better version of herself. And as a result, how her creative productivity flourished. Hey, Amy, and welcome back to Scrapbook Your Way. I'm so excited to talk to you.
Amy Melniczenko 0:51
Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Jennifer Wilson 0:54
Can you remind our listeners a little bit about yourself, who you are, where you live and all that?
Amy Melniczenko 0:59
Sure. I'm Amy Melniczenko. I live in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia. Born and raised here. Lived a few other places here and there, including Missouri, St. Louis, Missouri and Northern Virginia. But came back home a few years ago, I am married, our 20th anniversary is this year. That's so crazy. It's crazy. And we have 16 year old twins and my husband and has a 25 year old daughter who is kind of my bonus daughter who is a CPA who lives in, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania . We're really proud of her. And so like I said, I have boy, girl twins, Alex and Megan. Who are both in high school and all into adolescence, at the moment. A whole whole new challenge that comes along with that. We also have two rescue dogs and a rescue cat as well, that we love and can't, you know, they're like my other children. I work full time as a project manager at a bank, a large bank, primarily in kind of the wealth area. And I basically help drive projects to completion as my day job, which comes in handy sometimes with memory keeping as well.
Jennifer Wilson 2:34
For sure, and for the work that you do as our creative team leader. So yes, a perfect fit for that is to be able to wrangle our team members and keep everything organized so that we can produce a beautiful magazine and share all this amazing work with with our members. So yeah, you've been part of our family for so long now. I checked my records, and we were corrected as far back is 2010, which makes it 11 years.
Amy Melniczenko 3:03
Jennifer Wilson 3:04
And yeah, you joined the team in 2013. And were the team leader by 2014. So it's just been such a pleasure to work with you. And yeah, I'm excited to dig deep into this particular topic today. But before we get there, I am curious what's exciting you right now in your hobby?
Amy Melniczenko 3:23
So I'm all things stamping at the moment. So I have really embraced all things stamps, I am overflowing with stamps and inks, particularly, I am loving alphas. Alpha stamps, and the Tim Holtz Distress Oxide inks. I just completed my collection, as if I needed all that ink. But I have, and I'm so excited and I've been playing with them all over the place. Something about that particular formula of ink is just, I love that I can do mixed media with it. And I can do stamping, you know, on traditional scrapbook pages, I just, I am loving all things stamps these days.
Jennifer Wilson 4:11
So I'm right there with you with this love of inks and stamps. And I am two shy away from completing my own Distress Oxide collection. I'm just trying to wait until I can bundle it with another order or something. I'm still missing a Carved Pumpkin and Mustard Seed but I certainly have plenty in the orange and yellow family. Anyway, it's not like they're, they're really missing but I can I definitely have that same kind of appreciation for what those inks can do. Just the versatility overall with as well as the consistency in just regular stamping on a scrapbook page because I bought so many inks over the years and I was always frustrated and I'm very rarely frustrated with these. So that makes me so happy.
Amy Melniczenko 4:55
Yeah, yeah, it's funny. I don't know, you know if it's just a change in mindset For me, but I would stayed away from stamping for a long time just because of that whole perfection, like, never turned out the way I was envisioning, and it would frustrate me. But over the last few years, I kind of am embracing that. And I like the way it looks on my pages. And I'm just going with it and loving it having a lot of fun. And they're so versatile. You can do so many things with stamps.
Jennifer Wilson 5:27
Yes, yes. Yes. So I have so many additional thoughts here. One is that I think having a stamp platform definitely has helped me with the perfection because it can be more perfect. I'm curious do you use one of those or are you just totally free handing with a block and truly embracing the imperfection?
Amy Melniczenko 5:45
So I do have a platform. But I often forget I have it when I'm stamping. So I do have one. And I do use it when I think of it. But a lot of times, I'm just kind of going with it. And it's funny, I was making a page yesterday, and I pressed too hard and it messed up. And it made the title of my page look kind of funny. And I just went with it and kind of did that on some of the other letters. And it ended up looking really, really good. In the past, I would have started all over and done it all again. And I just went with it. And I actually really love how it looks, so. But I do like the stamp platform. It's what got me there. Got me interested in stamping again, after I bought that. But now I'm kind of venturing away.
Jennifer Wilson 6:37
Definetly, kind of that. Maybe I'm just a few steps behind you on that evolution then. Working towards more of the embracing of imperfection. But I get like the idea of the happy accidents. And sometimes you can just get a fun, cool look by accident. Because something you know, quote unquote, messed up, but you can just roll with it. Now I'm curious, did you participate in Stamp Your Story Live yesterday?
Amy Melniczenko 7:03
I did. I did. Okay, so I think that's part of why stamps are on my brain right now. I spent most of the day watching that content and working on projects, many of which had stamping on them. So yeah.
Jennifer Wilson 7:18
And then you said your alphabet stamps are some of your favorites. So would you have a particular like, collection or manufacturer? Like who's creating the alphabet stamps you love most?
Amy Melniczenko 7:30
Mostly Ali Edwards. The new Week In The Life alpha and number stamp that she came out with is like, I'm obsessed with it. And I was looking through my story album last night and all, almost every page that I've done for the last, I don't know, month has had that stamp somewhere on it. And I also love one of the stamp sets that Heidi Swapp has, I think it's, I can't remember the name of it. But it's an alpha and it has numbers. And they're the nice thing about it is it is they it stamps to look imperfect on purpose. So...
Jennifer Wilson 8:10
Amy Melniczenko 8:11
Love that. Also have quite a few of the Paper Person alphas as well. But I would say the vast majority of what I had is Ali Edwards.
Jennifer Wilson 8:21
Cause I'm, I don't know if you recall that in the community, I posted about alphas. And I'm like, I'm, my collection, I think we did, we went back and forth on this that because my some of my older ones are not looking so hot from a few years ago. And I just don't have that many. And so therefore because I don't have that many I'm not, I'm not using them. And I don't have really alphas, two mix that are in similar sizes. And so I'm definitely kind of wanting to build my stash there and kind of figuring out what I'm gonna buy next. I'm right there with you.
Amy Melniczenko 8:51
Jennifer Wilson 8:53
Al lright, what about your memory keeping Bucket List? What is one story that you really feel is important to tell?
Amy Melniczenko 8:59
So it's kind of funny, the story that I've been kind of thinking about a lot lately actually came out of some conversation that our team was having kind of in our back channel over on the Mighty Networks site. Because one of the prompts for the upcoming issue was around colorful language. And so one of the team members had posted, Is it okay if I do a page that has some some cursing on it, or colorful language on it, and it got me thinking and, and I had posted, you know, I really need to do a page about my own love of colorful language. And because I've never really done that, but it is something kind of funny and quirky about me, and is an interesting story. And so I'm trying to figure out the best way to do that in a way that doesn't, you know, it's just a fine line between, you know, to document something like that. So still trying to work out how I'm going to do that. But that's kind of a big one that's coming up that I think says a lot about who I am.
Jennifer Wilson 10:07
Oh, yeah. 100% that that conversation was so fascinating because I think we were all trying to figure out what is the best way to do it when kind of a broader public would see it versus when maybe only you and your family would see it and just kind of how do you approach that in a way that feels appropriate? Given that the story is about colorful language? I mean, yeah, you might offend someone no matter what. So that's kind of the whole point.
Amy Melniczenko 10:33
Yeah, and that, you know, it's funny, that may be one that I don't share widely, because I don't want to, I don't want to offend anybody, but at the same time, I do think, you know, part of the reason that I scrapbook is because I want to tell the stories about who we are. And, and that is something that I think I know, I would love to know that about a grandmother, my grandmother or my great grandmother, if that was something that they you know, it was a part of who they were, I would love to know that. So I'm gonna do it. I've just, I've got to figure out the best way to do it.
Jennifer Wilson 11:08
Yeah, for sure. Totally reminds me. It was last weekend, I was driving Emily home from somewhere and she just randomly brings up, Mom, I have a question for you. Have you and daddy been keeping up with the swear jar? Because I don't, I don't really see it getting any any taller. I don't think there's been more money adding to it. And like we started the swear jar, like three years ago, maybe as a couple of bucks to it. And it's just sat there ever since. And I don't know what made her think of that. Hilarious.
Amy Melniczenko 11:40
Yeah, it's interesting, too, as my kid, you know, when my kids were little, we were really careful about the colorful language. And you know, did things like the swear jar and all that stuff. And as they become older and older, and now they're teenagers, I feel like I'm the one constantly being like, Don't say that. You know? And they're like, Mom, come on. And we've heard you say that. I'm like, I know, but you're not supposed to have you're just a child. So it's an interesting, dynamic. So...
Jennifer Wilson 12:15
All right, so the topic of this episode, the theme is kind of the idea of creative renewal. And it's, you know, as we mentioned, you know, I've known you for a long time now, and I've definitely seen your own creative work evolve of both digital and paper scrapbooking. But I wanted to specifically talk about kind of how you flourish creatively after a challenging time. And I think that, you know, we all have the pandemic create a challenging time, for most of us around the world, but you had additional like, life stuff on top of that, too. So I just, you know, I wanted to I just noticed you kind of blossom or spread your wings out of that. And I was just, I wanted to just talk more about what that has felt like and, you know, the the permission and grace that you gave you gave yourself along the way or maybe didn't, and just all the nuances of that. So maybe let's start back with your scrapbooking journey. How did, when did you begin and how has your hobby evolved over these years?
Amy Melniczenko 13:18
So I i've been scrapbooking in some way, shape or form, since middle school. Middle school, high school age, it was more like, you know, photo albums, where I would put photos and memorabilia and words. Nothing fancy. I didn't put it in a special book. It was just in our regular, you know, photo albums. But I always had this thing about photos and words and putting them together. I kind of officially did what you know, we think of today as scrapbooking, in 2000. I was working on a, I wanted to do a wedding planning scrapbook, as I was planning for for our wedding in which was in 2001. And so I went to, I believe Michaels and I got a book that kind of walk through how to do it and I bought a bunch of paper and pens and just literally jumped in and loved it. It was like finding what you know, I've always tried a lot of different hobbies and things to do and never really other than reading found one that fit and it was like immediate, like this is my thing. And so I paper scrapped for several years, mostly an 8.5 by 11. 12 x 12 scared me a lot in the beginning. And so I, until 2005, and that's when my twins were born. And I, I just couldn't, I couldn't find the time. The paper was everywhere. My kids were you know, as they got older, were trying to get into everything. And so I, that's why I explored Digi the first time looking into digital because I was thinking, Hey, I can put that on my laptop, and I can do that from anywhere in the house. And the kids aren't gonna tear up the supplies that I buy. And I loved it. It also felt like a natural extension, I was still doing the thing that. (dog barking) Somebody let the dog back down here. It was a natural extension of the storytelling pieces that I loved. And I actually wasn't always real happy with my pages when I was doing paper. So digital kind of allowed me to do some things that I didn't feel comfortable doing with paper. And so I loved it. And I continued to do be primarily digital scrapbooker until 2019. So for a long time. And it's funny. I began, I have a, I was on a podcast with you talking about books and reading and memory keeping. And one of the things that you suggested when we were talking about my books and reading stuff was, you know, if I was saying I might want to get into paper, a little bit, you were like, have you thought of a traveler's notebook. I'm like, Yeah, that's a good idea. And so I went and bought some paper stuff, and a traveler's notebook and did a paper album for the first time in ages.
Jennifer Wilson 16:31
So I'm 100% to blame for all of this.
Amy Melniczenko 16:33
You absolutely are. It was, and it was the best thing that could have happened because I needed something. To get me excited about the hobby, again, I was struggling, you mentioned about, you know, the 2019, 2020 were rough for a lot of reasons. And I needed something to kind of jumpstart things. And your suggestion really helped. I loved working with paper again. And that just began where I am now, which is probably 80% paper 20% Digi, I only really do digital pages to fill in gaps from previous digital pages that I was doing. So I keep track of of what areas I hadn't covered. So I will do digital for those. But anything new is typically going to be in paper now, which is exciting and different and fun.
Jennifer Wilson 17:34
And what sizes are you enjoying working with right now?
Amy Melniczenko 17:37
So for any digital stuff that I'm doing, it's always 12 by 12. Typically, unless it's like a specific project. For paper, I'm doing Project Life in 12 by 12. I have 6 by 8 story albums that I am doing. And that's where the vast majority of my scrapbooking is today. I have a 3 by 8 for my One Little Word album. And then I also am doing the Pieces of Me project with the Ali Edwards community. And so I have an 8.5 by 11 album for that. Tring, part of it is just trying to figure out what's the right size for me now. It's feeling like 6 by 8 is is a great size for me at the moment. But I, I'm you know, looking towards 12 by 12 more and more. I'm getting less scared of it because of Project Life.
Jennifer Wilson 18:32
Oh, okay. curious. That's interesting. Yeah, I've, I was for the 2018-19, hold on let me turn around, yeah, 2018-19, I was doing exclusively 6 by 8. And then it got bigger to 8.5 by 11. And then this year, I made a few 12 by 12. And I was like, Oh shoot, I'm gonna have to start buying 12 by 12 albums again, because now I'm just creating in whatever size I want to in the moment, but then definitely ebbs and flows. And I love that we have the options. And I've had to give myself permission to you know, to switch between the sizes. I don't have to stay, you know, totally connected to something.
Amy Melniczenko 19:11
Yeah, yeah. I mean, that's the great thing about the community right now, in my opinion is there's so many options, that there's something there for for everybody. And I'm really enjoying trying a little bit of everything. I have a couple of projects that I am hoping to begin this year, all of which will be in the traveler's notebook size, which I haven't done again since the books and reading project that I did back in 2019. So I'm looking forward to exploring that size a little bit as well again.
Jennifer Wilson 19:44
Ah, super fun. Okay, so getting back into the, you know, the meater parts of this, like, if we asked you the kind of loaded question, how was the past year for you? What's your response?
Amy Melniczenko 19:58
So it's interesting, for in many ways 2019 and 2020 kind of feel like one big blur of a year for me. I know for most people, it felt like two years. It didn't for me, it really felt that it was the probably the most challenging time in my life. And so primarily because it's it started in 2019, my family, both my my immediate family and my extended family, it was just one thing after another in terms of physical and mental health issues. And so someone was in the hospital, someone was, you know, needing help needing care, a lot of doctor's visits that it was just all over the place. And on top of that, you know, I work full time, and I have a pretty intense job. And I was also a particularly intense time at my job. And I just found myself unable to prioritize myself at all. And so I just, I wasn't making a lot of time for creative work. And even when I did, I just wasn't excited about it. And part of that was mindset, I think, but I think it was also just, I had been at that point, digital scrapbooking for so many years. And I just wasn't feeling very challenged or excited about about that anymore. And then, of course, pandemic hit, and the chaos of our life changed. So it was still chaos, it was a little different. But it was still a lot of upheaval. And it was kind of I think of it as like a rocky year of adjustment for our family. And for me, you know, I was suddenly working from home, like most people who have that luxury, and my family was here, constantly 24 hours a day together. And for this introvert that was really challenging. Yes, two teenagers and me and my husband kind of in each other's faces all the time, especially coming off of such a rough year, the year prior. And we were just in recovery mode. And I came to a place where I realized that I had to shift to a place of taking care of myself if I was going to be able to be what my family needed me to be. And so part of that was creativity. And I think, you know, having been on that podcast with you, and you had mentioned that project, and I got the supplies and I started getting excited about memory keeping for the first time in a really long time. And a lot of that was the physical tactile playing with supplies, which I of course hadn't been doing for many years, because I was doing everything on the computer. And not in not only memory keeping, but it also opened doors to other things like art, journaling, watercolor, all of these new mediums that I kind of always thought were beyond me because I'm I'm not an artist. And I kind of started challenging that thought that I had in my mind that I wasn't an artist and that I couldn't, wasn't very creative, and just started trying things. And it really helped me to find a place where I could explore some of the creativity that was missing in my life. And it really helped me to kind of get back to me and to what I cared about. And then I found that as I did that, it allowed me to open up and be there for my family in a way that I don't know if I would have been able to do it had I not found something for me, as well.
Jennifer Wilson 24:02
So what I've noticed in this and particularly because you're talking about, you know, talking doing that, the traveler's notebook and back in 2019 you didn't wait to for everything to be right in the world again, to start this process. You had this realization, and you used the tools of creativity to, I'm sure cope with that time and come through it even stronger.
Amy Melniczenko 24:25
Yes, yeah, I didn't wait. And that's something that I I definitely recommend to other people in my life who are struggling with you know, anything. Is if something excites you, just do it. Don't worry about you know, any barriers, just do it. It will help and that's what I found by just jumping into the deep end, picking up a paintbrush, playing with paper, folding paper. And was every single thing that I created, you know the best thing ever? No, of course not. But it all helped me. Really, it was really cathartic. And it really helped me to kind of process what I had been through over the last year, year and a half, two years, and find a, find out what I needed to do for me in order to move forward in a much healthier way, physically and emotionally. So, yeah.
Jennifer Wilson 25:27
Yeah, I definitely, I'm, I see so much of me and you and your story as well. And I feel like I have this like toolbox now of, okay, things aren't feeling right, I need to, you know, so I can be the best person, business owner, wife, Mom, etc, I need to dip into my toolbox, and start using these things more again, or deeper and a better way to to get back to that place. And it's so I don't know if it's comforting to have that to know that, whether it's tools of creativity or journaling or better sleep, but I you know, as I get older, I'm amassing these tools. And I just need to remember that they're there to lean on. When when things feel untenable.
Amy Melniczenko 26:11
Yeah. And it's funny, there were times when I would sit down at my craft desk and be like, I just want to go take another nap. Like, I'm so tired. And I would just say to myself, okay, 10 minutes, 10 minutes of doing whatever grabs me. You know, whether that was sorting photos in my photo system, whether that was actually working on a page, playing with stamps, playing with paint, whatever it was. And, you know, just like people say, with exercise, once I started doing it, I next thing I would look up, and it was an hour later, and I was like, Oh, wow. And I had access some part of creativity that I needed to express. But, you know, it would have been really easy to go lay back down and take a nap or read a book and anything to not express it. But I just started following that, and forcing myself to do it sometimes when it was hard. And then 10 minutes went by, and I still felt like I wanted to go take a nap, then I would go take a nap. But at least giving yourself the opportunity. Oftentimes, you will look up and be like, wow, that was really helpful. Yeah, and, and also the other piece that helped me as I participated in 100 Day Project, which I've never, well I was gonna say I've never done before, I've started it numerous times. I shouldn't say that. I've started it numerous times, but I've never been able to complete it. And I decided on something very simple. But I wanted to be sure that every day, I was doing something creative. And so I cut out three by four cards on white cardstock. And I painted on them or I drew on them or, you know, any number of things. And it really helped me begin kind of a daily practice of creativity of some sort. And I know that, you know, that's something that I've seen a lot of people embrace during the pandemic. And, and it really did help me to kind of focus like that whole idea of daily pages, or I think you do like a morning creativity time, I believe correct?
Jennifer Wilson 28:29
I'm calling it Coffee and Crafting these days.
Amy Melniczenko 28:31
Yes, that's it. That's it. Yeah. And that's something actually that I'm thinking about doing as well. To continue to kind of, I don't know, make that a concrete part of my start of my day. Because I have been doing it kind of whenever I do it every day, but I was doing it whenever I had a free minute. And I just feel like maybe scheduling it first thing in the day, may help start the day in a really good place for me. So I love that idea. When I heard you were doing that I was like, Oh, I may have to do that. So thank you, I get another idea that I'm going to totally steal from you.
Jennifer Wilson 29:09
You said like you even when you had a free minute and I find that if I start into my day, I never feel like I have that. And so I have to basically force myself to say no, you will have a better day if you take 20 minutes now to do basically whatever the hell you want. Either play with my photos, paint something, you know, type up some journaling, as long as it's like something creative. You know, pull an Oracle card really anything that's like nurturing my inner self a little bit. And spending some time with that always sets me up for a much stronger day even if that day is starting a little bit later because I stayed up too late the night before. Doesn't really matter what time but as long as it's the first thing before I go into the have to dos. It so yeah, it's it's such a good thing.
Amy Melniczenko 30:03
Yeah, and you know, that also makes me think about something else that has been really helpful to me that you referenced there around creativity. Is, is more than just creating a scrapbook page. And for a long time, I would beat myself up, if I didn't, you know, if I said I wasn't gonna be creative this weekend, and I didn't end up with numerous pages done. And what I've kind of tried to embrace and shift my mindset to is creativity is more than just putting photos on a piece of paper, and embellishing them, it's also organizing your photos, it's also organizing your supplies. It's, you know, thinking about kind of project planning, so to speak, what you want to do with a given kit, or that kind of thing, putting kids together, you know, it doesn't, you know, watching training videos, you know. I, I subscribe to Ali Edwards Story Kit. And so watching one of her process videos is creativity. I'm learning I'm, you know, able to see different techniques and that kind of thing. So that's another thing that I think has helped is broadening what creativity is for me, has really allowed me to focus on things that matter and that contribute overall to my creativity, but maybe aren't sitting down putting a page together. That's really been helpful.
Jennifer Wilson 31:32
Oh, yeah. So important to. Yeah, I don't know, I don't know how to conclude that. But I totally agree. I totally agree.
Amy Melniczenko 31:40
And, you know, that's one of the things that I love about the community that you've created with Simple Scrapper is that there's always a place I can go, if I'm needing something in the realm of creativity. People who are like me, I can just go there and learn from other people learn from what you and the rest of the team are doing as well as our members. It's just been so helpful to me to have a place to go and be around other people who understand why I need this hobby so much and why it matters to me.
Jennifer Wilson 32:16
Yes, thank you for saying that. I mean, obviously, you're part of our team. And but it's just, I think each every one of us, we're still here, myself included, because we get so much personally out of it. It's just this like, you know, self propagating ecosystem. That's just so amazing.
Amy Melniczenko 32:35
Jennifer Wilson 32:38
So thinking specifically about 2021, as you started this year, and maybe there was like a little bit more light at the end of the tunnel with, with the pandemic and things were feeling a wee tiny bit more optimistic. What was it that you felt you needed in terms of creativity? Is it is it just this kind of idea of practice, or were there some other things you wanted to explore deeper on?
Amy Melniczenko 33:01
So I definitely felt like I needed to continue to prioritize self care and, and memory keeping is a, and creativity is a huge part of that for me. And so I, I was trying to figure out new ways to think about how I can focus on the thing that I love the most about it. So number one storytelling, so learning as much as I can about how to, because that's really what it's about for me. When I look back at my pages from throughout the years that I've been scrapbooking, the things that that I think I'm so glad I did that were the things that were the story about the photo, when I look at a cute picture of my kids, but there's no journaling there. It's just a date. I just don't it doesn't bring me the same joy that it does. When I read one about a story about all the things my daughter was saying when she was two. And so trying to figure that out for myself, like what am I here for that's my primary is the storytelling piece. Now don't get me wrong, I love the product. Love it, use it buy a lot of it. But ultimately trying to figure out how to make storytelling the key piece, has been really important this year. And the primary way that I've done that is by beginning to use my project management and planning skills in my memory keeping, in my scrapbooking, so I know this sounds strange, but...
Jennifer Wilson 34:40
No, it sounds awesome.
Amy Melniczenko 34:42
Yeah, I just never thought I know. And just never thought to put the two together. Which sounds strange to me now, but all of a sudden I was like, why am I not using those skills a little bit and then I think in addition to that, learning more about, about Trello. Both through the community and through some of the work that we do, as part of our team in Trello, also helped. Because I can use that to kind of manage the projects that I want to want to create, and really get that kind of, I think you call it the Creative Hub, but my memory keeping hub. Make it work for me in a way that will really help drive me to tell more stories to make sure I'm documenting what, what matters, and that sort of thing. So I'm using that to track my projects to trap, to track any gaps in things. And then the final piece was really getting some control over my supplies. So when I began doing paper, again, I went out and bought all the things, like all the things, every single thing I saw, I bought, not thinking about how I was going to even use it, it was just like, I want everything at my fingertips. And I had no supply organization, things weren't getting used, I was getting frustrated. So that has really been important. Because then I can actually focus on putting things together. And getting my stories told without worrying about finding, you know, this stamp set or that sticker, like I know, I have a sticker that would work here or a die cut. And now I have I think found, and it's a constant, you know, evolution, but I think I've found what works for me. And it's really helping me produce more, which is allowing me to share more. So a lot of times, I wasn't sharing on Instagram or you know, out and about in various communities. Because I was so slow getting anything done, I just felt like I didn't, I couldn't even take the time to take the pictures and post them and all that because I, I had such a limited time. And so time management skills, and the project management pieces, and the organization pieces have been key to meet for me this year. And I have produced more this year than last. And certainly more than the year before. I mean, I'm seeing a huge increase in productivity. And I think all of the things we've talked about today have played into that. But those are areas that I've really focused on in 2021 that I think have helped.
Jennifer Wilson 37:35
Now, I'm curious, can you talk a little bit more about the ways that you've used Trello to take you all the way from that idea to posting on social media, like you have a checklist for one of the items is like when layouts done post on Instagram?
Amy Melniczenko 37:51
Yes. Yes, I do. So you know, I have many, many, many Trello lists. But one of the pieces of that of my to dos is always take go, you take the photos, get them ready, and upload them. And so that has really helped me and it's then helped me feel a part of the community on Instagram that I wasn't really feeling very engaged in, because I wasn't posting regularly and so nobody was seeing anything I was doing. And so having some accountability for my, and set goals. So that's the other thing that Trello has helped me do. And I know you have really focused on this as well in your your scrapbooking, but just thinking about you know, every for the year, I want to do this. Okay, let's break that down into the quarter. And let's break that down monthly. And I've learned most of that, from the the Simple Scrapper community to be honest with you, and using Trello in that way, has really upped my game. And so I keep track of stories, I have like a story board in there that I keep track of I keep track of the kits that come in, you know, so by Ali Edwards kits, Project Life, things that I want to include, I'm constantly in my Trello board, adding pieces and parts, so I don't forget things. And then I also have a separate board that is all about my kind of the gaps in in previous years that were all digital. So when I get to a place where I'm like, you know what, I kind of feel like doing a digital page today. I can open that board in Trello and easily find, okay, here are places that still need some work. And it's just really helped keep me focused, and then I can look, I also track when I've completed things and it's nice to look over and be like wow, okay, I finished two of those years, just in this last year because I have this board. That's helping me track all this.
Jennifer Wilson 39:51
That's awesome. Yeah. The more that I've used Trello, the more goal oriented I've become. It's so weird because I didn't feel like I was before. Like, to me, it didn't really matter how many layouts I made in the year. But now because I can so easily track it like what you know, they always say like what you track, it's done. And it's so true. And now I feel I'm so much more goal oriented, because I love checking off the boxes and seeing the progress. Oh, even over a longer term like doing, you know, I've had zero success with the 100 Day Project myself, because that's a really long time. But now I feel like because of Trello. And because of the accountability systems that I have in place, the same ones you've been talking about with, you know, whether it's morning time, or what we do inside the community with our crops, like, I there's the accountability there that could support me and actually doing that now. So it's, yeah, it's super cool.
Amy Melniczenko 40:49
And you know, it's funny, I do Trello, I kind of live in and, and die by Trello these days. But I also keep a list in my planner of projects that I do weekly, less kind of these are the things that I'd like to check, you know, chip away at, if possible, I don't expect to do them all. But that way, when I do have some time, I can sit down and say, oh, oh, yeah, I wanted to work on that, I feel like doing that, I'm gonna do that. And it just helps reinforce, because I like to write things down as well. And it doesn't feel duplicative to me, because, you know, all the details are in Trello. So I know I can go in there. And, and make sure that I'm doing everything I wanted to and including everything that I wanted to, but it just helps refocus me. During the week, when I sit down, I'm like, Okay, I have half an hour, and I want to do something creative, what's on my list that I wanted to accomplish this week. And that's really helped keep me on track as well.
Jennifer Wilson 41:50
I definitely have kind of identified this boundary around Trello, because I'm in there all the time, just like you. But to me, anything I've adding to Trello is for not this week, there's very rare exceptions where I'm literally adding something that I'm going to do this week, because then I just add it to my planner, and it will do it. So Trello is all the stuff that I want to do at some point, I you know, seven days from now or later. Yeah, up until years later, but you know, because we have like our house project list on there, too. But it's definitely anything that's near term goes on my planner, because that's what I'm going to look at every single moment of the day to find out okay, what do I need to do next?
Amy Melniczenko 42:30
Jennifer Wilson 42:32
So okay, this, this project management approach has worked really well for you either. Is there an aspect of it that you feel of your memory keeping approach in 2021, particularly in service of your overall wellness, that could still use some some tweaking?
Amy Melniczenko 42:49
Yes, so to two primary areas come to mind. First, I mentioned earlier about time management. And that's something I'm still kind of working through. And trying to figure out the best way for me to use the time that I have available. I mean, I'm busy I you know, work full time, I do work with Simple Scrapper, I, you know have two teenage kids. And so I need to figure out a little bit more structure for my time management. And so I'm kind of working through that and trying to figure out how I might use Trello better for that. And my, my, my planner, so I'm, I'm playing with a few different things. Nothing is quite working yet, but I'll get there I think. And then, secondly, photo organization is just, I feel like I get my arms around it. And then six months later, I'm like, what was that I was doing with photos like I I just never seem to be able to consistently I you know, I put stuff on my calendar. Okay, on the 15th of every month, I'm gonna go in and do XYZ or once a week, I'm gonna do this just never seems to come together for me with photos for some reason. So I'm still and you know, it's something I hear a lot of people in the community talk about, too. So I know I'm not alone. But it's something that I'm just trying this year to get my my hands around something that's workable for me.
Jennifer Wilson 44:29
I'm wondering if there's like it because I've definitely found this the same way that when I was doing really engaged in Photo Freedom at the beginning of the year, I had this like this direction I was going and then somebody asked me about it and I'm like, Oh gosh, I don't even remember what, what what direction that was. And I know I wrote it down somewhere. But if I put it in Trello, I'd have a place for it. So maybe you need something in Trello that's kind of here's my overall photo management philosophy, the system what I'm trying to build and what I have in place to kind of see you have a reference, and when you do re engage with it, you can kind of pick up where you left off.
Amy Melniczenko 45:06
Yeah, that's a great idea. Yeah, I don't do any sort of photo management organization pieces in Trello. But that's a great idea. Since I'm already doing so much there. Any way it might help me to document kind of what I want to do? And yeah, because there's a part of it is, you know, I have time periods where I've done a really good job and a lot of time periods that I haven't done a really good job of organizing my photos. So that's a great idea, Jennifer, thank you. Yeah, I think I'm gonna do that.
Jennifer Wilson 45:39
Well and I think that like, we can be kind of had the metadata around your photos, like, not specifically each photo, but just the metadata about you, that's what Trello is so great for, it's just storing all that extra information that we tend to lose track of. Yeah, and to add some tasks like, okay, here's what I want to do. And even if you write that task down now, and you don't come back to it for six weeks, you at least know what it is you want to do next. Because it's just we want to be creative with it. We don't want to spend all of our time organizing photos, organizing supplies, because we want to just be making things and so we have to sometimes have to press pause, because we really could spend all our time on that.
Amy Melniczenko 46:19
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that's a great idea.
Jennifer Wilson 46:23
Awesome. Okay, so kind of stepping back here trying to wrap up. What do you think is the role of memory keeping and creativity in your overall wellness toolbox, cuz I'm sure you have other tools in that toolbox, too.
Amy Melniczenko 46:36
So the two primary things that that I focus on is, you know, memory, keeping, staying organized, making sure that I'm holding, you know, making sure I say holding myself accountable, which sounds very, oh, I'm holding myself accountable. But just making sure that I'm, I'm focusing on creativity and on memory keeping and getting the stories told, even if it's just in Trello. So, you know, sometimes something will happen. And I know, I'm not gonna have time to document that. But I want to be sure that I document how I'm feeling about it, and what happens so that at some point I can, so using the tools at my disposal to do that is key. And then the second piece is reading. So and I have made an effort every month to try and bring the whole creativity, memory keeping, and reading thing together by reading a book about creativity, or habits or a lot, very, very similar to the kinds of books that are read in the book club, for Simple Scrapper. But trying to figure out ways to use the information that I'm, I read about, and improve the way that I'm memory keeping, because I love to read and I love to memory keep and I the way that I feel best is when both of them are very high on the priority list. And so I love when I when you first came out with the whole book club idea, I was like, Yes, this is what I'm talking about, because that's what I tried to do. And so I love that, that you're having those conversations within the community and helping people bridge between, you know, the things that we read that, you know, maybe don't feel very connected to memory, keeping our creativity and helping bridge that gap. And so that's really something that I'm trying to focus on this year. And so I bought a few books that I particularly have heard people in the community talk about a lot. And I'm really trying to work that one of those in every month and spend some time beyond just reading it, but thinking about how I can use the information that I'm reading about and help facilitate the memory keeping creativity piece and keeping that high on the list. And it's really been helpful so far.
Jennifer Wilson 49:15
Oh, I love that as I mean, you're sure and you're not surprised that so much. And I think one thing that's been really interesting this year is that we're only reading six books in the book club instead of 12 for the first time. And because I wanted to have a little bit of breathing room, and to just have an opportunity to just continue the conversation and you know, we're using this kind of overall lens of habits and keep we keep coming back to that. But these you know, we're calling them steady group conversations, but these have been even better conversations, then the book review conversations that we have every month. There's so much juicy or we get into so many more details and fun anecdotes and shared ideas and I yeah, it's just it's so much another part of really what's at the heart of everything we do at Simple Scrapper. So I'm so glad you brought that up. Thank you. And then one final kind of related question. I feel like you know, from that point in 2019 on as you were going through this journey, and then as you've, you've come so far back into yourself, maybe. And you've done that by seeking what you realize you truly needed. So do you have any kind of final big picture lessons or advice to share for our listeners of how we can better seek out what we truly inside our hearts know we need?
Amy Melniczenko 50:34
Yes, so a few things. So first, step away if you need to, and don't feel guilty about it. Because sometimes you have to step away to get to the place that you need to be. And that's okay. So take a week off, take a month off, if you need to, it's here it will come back. I mean, you can come back at any time. But if you really need to step away from scrapbooking, or whatever hobby you're talking about, allow yourself to do that without guilt. And then kind of connected to that is if something's not working, move on, move on to something else. I'll give you an example. I did an album about our about 2019, and how tough it was. And it really helped me to kind of process what we experienced and what happened. One of those albums, that's very personal, I don't know that I will ever share it. But it's kind of been for me to process all of that. I'm probably I've probably got 10 spreads left that I want to do, but I'm just not feeling it right now. I feel like I'm, I want to work on other things. So I'm just putting it in the shelf, I have in Trello a list of other things that I'd like to add in at some point, I may go back. And if not, I'm just happy that I have the stories captured that I do have. So that you know, my kids, their kids, will be able to look back at this challenging time we had and see, you know, how I was feeling about it, and how we got through and what helped and what was tough and that kind of thing. So if it's not working, let it go. You can always come back later. I heard a lot of that people saying that about Week In The Life which was fairly recently, Ali's community did Week In The Life and I heard a lot of people like well, I only took photos Monday and Tuesday. And then I you know, lost. Document the two days you did get. That's two days you didn't have before. If you're feeling like you want to do it, do it. If you're not set it aside, maybe you'll come back and do those two days at another time. I just think sometimes we get so focused on completion, that it's okay to take a step back and and abandon something that's not working for you.
Jennifer Wilson 52:54
Well, I think particularly with, with projects like that, that involve taking photos, I've never I mean, yes, sometimes managing photos can be not as fun but I've never regretted having more photos, especially for Week In The Life. You know, the there's so many interesting photos that I end up taking that I would not have taken, if not for that invitation. Even if I end up not doing a you know, a full Week In The Life type project. I have now more photos that I can scrapbook for other stories.
Amy Melniczenko 53:24
Yeah, definitely. Another thing is, and I think I said this earlier, but embrace imperfection. Because it's so much more fun. Like it really is. and much less stressful. It's hard, especially for people who have a tendency to, you know, be a perfectionist and want everything to look a certain way. It's hard. And one way that I have found that's been helpful is trying new things, especially if they scare me. Even if they're in like adjacent places. So for example, I mentioned earlier about watercolor, watercolor scared me to death but I was also drawn to it. And so I pushed myself and a lot of that 100 day, project work was done in watercolor and it's funny, when I look at the beginning, I'm like, oh, wow, for you, that was not great. But when I look at the, you know, the 99th one, I'm like, wow, I really develop some skills there and it is true. Creativity begets creativity. So you know if for some reason, paint is just you know, grabbing you go paint as much as you can, no matter what it looks like and see where it will take you because I bet you it will take you to places you had no idea you needed to go. Creativity, you know, with with respect to creativity.
Jennifer Wilson 54:54
100% this is, thank you so much, Amy. This has been such an amazing conversation. Beautiful words there that to wrap things up at the end, can you share where we can find you online and anything new you might have coming up in the future?
Amy Melniczenko 55:11
Nothing new. Other than, you know, you mentioned earlier, I am trying to do a better job of growing my Instagram feed so I'm trying to post there more often and share more often. And so that's probably the best place to find me these days. memorykeeping_musings is my Instagram name, sorry. And so just trying to grow my account there and meet more people and learn from other people. It's it's been great. And of course I am, you know, always over at Simple Scrapper. And I think you're gonna have to throw me out I've been around for so long. I can't imagine not having that community as part of my life. So...
Jennifer Wilson 56:06
Well, we can't imagine not having you really keeping the things together that you do in the background either. So you also have a book Instagram too, don't you?
Amy Melniczenko 56:16
I do. I do. Thank you. I see. I wasn't even thinking Yes. So amysbookobsession, is that Instagram account. And I I have been trying to share a little bit more there I had kind of stopped for a while it was just becoming a lot. But now I think I'm finally finding a balance between the book Instagram and the memory keeping Instagram. So yeah, I try to share what I'm reading and give quick reviews on things and just, you know, interesting stuff about the books and reading world.
Jennifer Wilson 56:52
Awesome. We'll include the links to both of those in the show notes for this episode. And again, Amy, thank you so much for joining me for this conversation. It's such a pleasure and I just can't express how amazing it is to hear that our last conversation was part of this evolution for you and you know, just played a small part in in shifting you into the beautiful place that you are now.
Amy Melniczenko 57:15
Well, thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I've, I've really enjoyed our conversation. So thank you.
Jennifer Wilson 57:20
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