Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

March 8, 2010

Getting Real : Thoughts On Creativity & Scrapbooking


It’s definitely starting to feel a like spring here today. It’s warming up, things are blooming, and I have that wonderful inclination to open all the windows to let the fresh air inside.

Among other things, the weather makes me want to clean out my garage. It also makes me want to rid myself of the excess once again (a continual battle that seems to hit a fevered pitch when the weather turns a bit warmer).

One of the concepts I have been thinking about lately is the concept of “getting real.” It seems to work hand in hand with shedding excess – it’s about adjusting expectations and clarifying and moving forward with less pressure, less fear, less of whatever it is we don’t need in our lives.

For me, getting real right now is about setting reasonable expectations. Because scrapbooking is a big part of my job, I am working on figuring out how to get real and find that life/work balance. It is a continual quest as the two are inherently integrated in my life. Also on my mind is finding that balance between taking a risk and extending myself in other artistic directions and staying in my creative “safe space.”

Getting real for me also means living with intention. It is an attitude and a way of looking at my everyday life and the choices I encounter from minute to minute.

I see getting real as a very positive thing.

Getting real is a process that often involves identification and some sort of action. It may be that you begin something or it may be that you end something – a behavior, a thought, an unhealthy process. It may also mean saying yes to a new opportunity or saying no to something that is not bringing anything positive to your life or your art.

Getting real is about giving yourself permission to change, making adjustments and moving forward toward a richer existence. It’s about not wasting a moment in this precious life of ours. It goes so very fast.

Here’s some additional thoughts related to getting real about your creative life (if you don’t scrapbook just substitute that word with another word such as paint, draw, write, etc):

• Get real about why you scrapbook and the role it plays in your life. There’s no right or wrong answer here, it is simply taking the time to think about scrapbooking’s place in your life.

• Get real about what you think scrapbooking should be and what it actually is for you. There are no rules, no ways that it is supposed to be or should be. Embrace what it is for you or make some changes if you want it to be different.

• Get real about the time you have to scrapbook. Get real about how much you are spending on supplies. Get real about how many albums you really need to tell your stories.

• Get real about spending time on you. Get real about finding that balance between all the different things that are important in your life.

• Get real about your personal cycle of creativity. I know for me there are ups and downs and ins and outs. Riding the down wave is a part of the process.

• Get real about whatever it is you are holding on to way too tight. Get real about your expectations for yourself. Perfection. Competition. Want. Commitments.

• Get real about telling the story that has been waiting to be told for months or years or decades.

• Get real about wasting time that could be spent in more creative ways. Get real about procrastination and the negative effect it can have in your life.

• Get real about the amount of projects on your to-do lists.

• Get real about your potential as a creative person. Where do you want to take your creativity? What is your focus? Telling your stories? Imparting a sense of creative wonder in your children? Hanging out with your friends as you make stuff together? Having your work in a gallery?

This week take some time to generate your own get real list. What’s on yours?
Originally published April 17, 2008 as part of my AEzine newsletter series. I will be periodically bringing content back from the archives, updating/adapting, and re-publishing here.


  • 1.
    Gabi said…

    This post is just what I needed to read today, Ali. I’m trying to find the right balance in my life. Though scrapbook is a big part of my life, I’ve felt lately that it is taking too much of my precious time. I’m trying not just to tell the stories about our life but live it more.
    Thank you for this wonderful post! I think I’m on a good way to getting more real.

  • 2.
    janie said…

    Thanks for the pep-talk I was needing this. Spring is the right time to be thinking about all of your examples you listed — like cleaning the garage and the basement. I will be doing that real soon!! It is a wonderful feeling after I do this…I don’t know why I don’t do it more often!! Thanks again!!

  • 3.
    Melissa said…

    I’ve heard your outlook coined as “The Oprah-fication of Scrapbooking” and I think it’s true. Which is a good thing. I like you and Oprah and scrapbooking. :)

  • 4.
    Ann said…

    Thank you for the straight forward dose of wisdom. I’m in the middle of reading “The Attentive Life” with intentions of paying attention to what is around me.

  • 5.
    Noreen said…

    Wow!! Just read the first couple comments — which were kind of what I was going to say, I really needed this today!! There are a bunch of areas I need to “get real” in and I just need to let go and do it. Thanks for the post!! I needed it!!

  • 6.
    Jen K. said…

    Wow Ali, this post really “talked” to me today–it certainly is a thinker! I have difficulty with balance as a stay-at-home mom. I need to “get real” with my personal expectations and lead my day with what is truly important to my family. Part of that is being the memory keeper–it’s a big responsibility, but just one more piece of the pie that is only a slice–BALANCE is key for me

  • 7.

    Wow! Thanks for the inspiring words today, it feels like it hit home as we are trying to “get real” with our life and everything in it!
    Thanks so much!

  • 8.
    Anne said…

    Oh, so many good questions that hit the mark! It sounds so.. mmh, clear when you write it, so clear thoughts. I am thinking about too many things too much.. You helped me to focus on well, yes, getting real. THANK YOU!

  • 9.
    tiny twig said…

    love these words. thanks! my whole life is about trying to “get real” and have adventure at the same time. i love that the two go hand in hand.

  • 10.
    Stacy said…

    Excellent post! I liked this one:
    “Get real about the time you have to scrapbook. Get real about how much you are spending on supplies. Get real about how many albums you really need to tell your stories.” as well as the one about spending time on “you” and procrastination. Those ones resonated with me. Funny thing, just yesterday I was reflecting on this whole scrapbooking thing and what direction I wanted to take with this hobby…then today you blogged about this very thing. So cool! Hope you’re all feeling better this now.

  • 11.
    cher said…

    its like you were visiting my brain! so very insightful! so much to think on…for me anyway….xox ty

  • 12.
    traceyp. said…

    thanks for the reminder of this post. love it. and needed it. i have to ask – what is the name of those flowers? they are beautiful. thanks ali!

  • 13.
    Emily said…

    great timing, goes right with Brene Brown’s post today on being worthy now. For me right now, I’m learning to say no and not feel guilty about it. I can’t do it all, even the “fun” stuff.

  • 14.
    Deb J said…

    Great post. My word this year is Intentional and everything you have said here is what I am working on. Getting real and finding what is really important and what I am doing just because it is there.

  • 15.
    Afusomax said…

    Amen! I am getting real with the clutter in my life. I love scrapbooking, and creating, but when it creates so much clutter that I can’t use my space, I know it’s time to get real.
    I am clearing, cleaning and freeing my space. And my life!

  • 16.
    Peaceliving said…

    I love this, Ali. For me, getting real last year meant that I didn’t scrapbook at all! After reading Stacy’s Photo Freedom, I looked at the sheer number of albums I had showing the tiny everyday moments in my boys’ and my lives and realized it was really too much…I don’t need to record every single cute thing they say and do. That released me from the guilt of scrapping everything and gave me time to focus on other arts that I’d neglected. It was a good change of pace for me. Now this year I’m going back and trying some hybrid scrapping of last year’s photos while doing Becky’s Project Life for this year, which seems just right for me. A few everyday moments plus the holidays and special occasions is enough to tell the story of this year. I still have time for other arts and I’m recording the most important stories from this year and last. Letting go of your old habits brings such freedom.

  • 17.
    Becca Groves said…

    Thanks for this, Ali. You are an encourager and I am inspired.
    hey…I’m working on my own type-case project. I began this weekend and will post updates on my blog. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea and how it is coming together already…

  • 18.
    Beth Holmes said…

    Thanks again for a wonderful post — expressed so well. I am also in the midst of this process, and am having to be very gentle on myself and scale back my expectations for myself at the moment since I have sprained my back and have limited mobility at the moment (thank goodness for my laptop and wirelss connection).

  • 19.
    Lori said…

    Wow – what a great Monday post. I need to work on my get real list. On a different note, in the fall you posted on different adhesives you were trying since the kukuyo was being discontinued. Did you end up having a favorite???!! I am looking for an adhesive that really works well.

  • 20.
    Anna Aspnes said…

    Love this Ali. So applicable to me right now.

  • 21.
    Anna Aspnes said…

    Love this Ali. So applicable to me right now.

  • 22.
    Anna Aspnes said…

    Love this Ali. So applicable to me right now.

  • 23.
    Molly Irwin said…

    this speaks to me too. I especially like the way you said ” … a process that often involves identification and some sort of action.”

  • 24.
    Steph H said…

    • Get real about wasting time that could be spent in more creative ways. Get real about procrastination and the negative effect it can have in your life.
    This really spoke to me today Ali. We had a sermon yesterday in church about TIME and what we do with it. I am a busy person, but I also know that I am capable of being way more effective with my time.
    Thanks for the reminder :)

  • 25.
    Ali Edwards said…

    they are tulips – just let them open all the way :)

  • 26.
    Debbie Servantez said…

    Thanks Ali. My word this year is place, and it is partly about perfectionism. This is a huge one for me and for my kids…it is everywhere in our little corner of the world. Thanks also for directing me to Dr. Brene Brown…I’ve just been reading her blog a bit, and it is great!

  • 27.
    abbey said…

    I vaguely remember this from before, but still so resonant and a very good time to check in again on real.

  • 28.

    Finding balance between family, leisure and scrapbooking has been something I have focused on lately. I can’t sacrifice one for the other… So this post really hit home today. Thanks!!!

  • 29.
    Carole Hepburn said…

    This was the most enlightening read of my morning = I am trying to find balance in my life , which is my word of the year, but this weekend it all came in perspective – I work too much !! I need balance, I need balance , I need balance… full time work , my scrapbook store, family, creating for myself, creating for the store , adding a new person into my life, getting rid of clutter , organizing, cleaning — where to find balance…….patience, looking forward not backward and a smile is how I have started !!

  • 30.
    amy tangerine said…

    your get real list is amazing.
    thanks for always inspiring.

  • 31.
    KellyB said…

    Perfect post for me since my word this year is REAL. I made not only a layout about it, but also made a sign for my scrapbook room/office that says BE REAL. It’s a constant reminder to make sure that my expectations of myself & others are realistic.

  • 32.

    wow – just came across you via a tweet on twitter. love this and it’s really interesting. And you mention the same thing that Danielle @ white hot truth just tweeted about too: work life, passion balance – haven’t read that post yet tho!
    February was about getting real for me and finding the balance and not getting too exhausted by all I have to do in life. Having worked in a nursing home too, I was reminded just how precious and speedy life is, and it made me realise now is the time to go for what I really wish to do with gusto. I have just launched my online art e-course whilst being a practicing artist too. This is what makes my heart sing!
    I think getting real is so important, yet I often find myself toying with the notion of creating reality versus facing reality – an interesting one!
    Thanks for sharing. I will be back.

  • 33.
    Amy Culp said…

    I am sobbing right now after reading this post! You hit head on what I have been feeling and this shook me to my very core. I will be printing this out and hanging it up where I can see it everyday. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being such an incredible inspiration. You blessed me greatly today.

  • 34.
    LM said…

    Getting real about how much I spend on supplies – ouch!
    Today’s post is so meaningful to me as I made a decision to downsize recently. I’m giving up my craft room and returning to the corner of the bedroom where I first started out scrapping. At the same time I’m getting items priced for a garage sale and when I see the boxes and boxes of stuff I’m trying to get rid of it’s sickening. Hooray to getting real! Your post also ties in with my word for 2010, which is awaken.

  • 35.
    julie said…

    loved everything about this. great thoughts.

  • 36.
    Vivi V said…

    This is very timely, as I am in the midst of “getting real” with myself — again. Perfectionism and procrastination are big hurdles for me and they show up regularly. Your attitude toward the scrapbooking process and enthusiasm for telling the story inspires me everyday to jump those hurdles. THANK YOU!
    By the way, I am looking forward to participating with Week in the Life in April!

  • 37.

    This is so true. I am so struggling right now with “who I am” and “who do I really want to be”. This includes my crafting and every part of my life.
    I have been the person who always wanted more. I wanted the newest, the best, or the “in” thing of the moment. It didn’t matter what it was. I wanted it. I really don’t like that about me. I am realizing I never was grateful for what I already had. I just wanted the “new” one. Oh mine is green, it now comes in pink. I have to have the pink one.
    I have so much product~ I will NEVER be able to use it all if I make a layout a day for the next 50 years. I will STILL have leftovers! I have so many beautiful papers that were too pretty to cut. I am sure you have heard it all before.
    It isn’t just my scrap room. It is everywhere in the house. I have three closets of clothes that range in size from 28-30 Women’s down to Size 3 Juniors. All mine! I am currently a size 6-8. I pray I will never again be a size 30 women’s, but I have kept the clothes, just in case.
    It is now about excess. I want back to simplicity. I want organization, not stuff. I want a quiet peace in each room of my house. I want to use what I have and then buy more. I want to actually NEED to shop for supplies.
    I am giving it all away. You heard me right. I am embracing the fact that when our hands are open to give, our minds and bodies, and souls are open to receive. I can’t “get” things when I am holding on so tightly to what I currently have.
    Thank you for inspiring me to do the “right thing”. I need to simplify, to be grateful, to celebrate now, today. There is joy in the simple basic things in my life. From the mail on the counter, to the laundry to be folded, it is all part of my story. I want my story to be simple, happy and clean. I want to be free of clutter. I want to be open to life. I don’t want to be holding on to things so tightly that I can’t embrace the beauty in front of me. Most of all, I want to be open to new possibilities and experiences.
    Thanks, Ali. You opened my eyes today.

  • 38.
    Tracey said…

    Very well said Ali. Getting real is very important and one of the reasons I stepped back and took a hiatus from scrapping after my daughter was born. Yes, telling her story is important, but so is living her story with her and being in the moment, not thinking what supplies do I need to buy to keep up with everyone else or what challenges do I need to enter to try and get noticed. I hated that the scrapping world turned into that kind of place!
    Scrapbooking is now for me personal and enjoyable and something I look forward to doing. I hope others will arrive in the same place, maybe they will thanks to your post today.

  • 39.
    Lya Lin said…

    So well expressed feelings and wise words said. Your “get real” questions made me re-think about my scrapbook world. Where I was kind of LOST. Thank you for the wake-up call through your thoughts and idea sharing. I’m so glad we all scrapbookers and crafters have you in here.
    Happy Week!

  • 40.
    Denise Laborde said…

    Everything rings so true.

  • 41.
    Danielle said…

    Great post! You are the Wayne Dyer of scrapbooking!! When I read:
    “Getting real for me also means living with intention. It is an attitude and a way of looking at my everyday life and the choices I encounter from minute to minute.”
    It seemed like you were channeling Wayne Dyer’s “Power of Intention”

  • 42.
    Ali Edwards said…

    I am definitely a fan of Wayne Dyer.

  • 43.
    Tracey H said…

    Well this post certainly has made me sit up and take a step back. I have been working in the papercraft industry for nearly 9 years now and I am at that point where do I want to move forward and grow my career or get out altogether and just create for personal satisfaction. This question has been on my mind for several months now the decision is not becoming any clearer, however, this post, your post has made me stop and realise that playing with this decision is not helping situation. So I intend to spend this week GETTING REAL. thanks for the kick up the backside
    Tracey xx

  • 44.
    Kari D said…

    What a perfect post today. Thanks for your thoughtful way of reminding us that we need to lead a purposeful life….whatever that purpose may be. I have copied this post and put it in my idea book, the place where I turn when I need to be inspired. Merci Beaucoup!

  • 45.
    Shawn Wenrich said…

    Great post Ali, Thank you!

  • 46.
    Karin Podolski said…

    Ali, great post. Have you ever read the book, The Velveteen Principles? It is a quick read that expands on the great children’s book. It is all about becoming real, much like the little rabbit in Margery Williams’ story. Great read. Good luck in your journey. KP

  • 47.
    Mary Ann said…

    This was exactly the inspiration and reminder that I needed to refocus my scrapbooking. Thank you.

  • 48.
    cwittyk said…

    Loved this post before, love it today, I miss your personal stories and philosophical thoughts on being a mom, being a worker, being a woman. You have great insight that helps us all – look at the way you touched and inspired so many of us, your readers. Your gift is your scrapbooking and art, but also, your mind. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  • 49.
    Judith said…

    Thanks for this post today Ali. I think I spend so much time looking for ideas and inspiration for the perfect page I don’t actually scrap anything! Time for more action on these projects I want to complete and less time organising and planning!

  • 50.
    Staci said…

    These are inspiring words that leave me with one thought, where do I begin?

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