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.


  • 51.
    JustMeAgain said…

    “Getting real” has always been a must-do for me, but perhaps more significantly so over the past year or so. This has meant setting more realistic goals for blogging, scrapbooking, photography and art. As a full time working mom with a nearly two hour daily commute, the issue of balance and intention is a daily commitment ~and so often a struggle. Your post is very inspiring. Thank you. :D

  • 52.
    sally nicol said…

    Love the “Get Real” list. This year I have been trying to get the balance right between me time, crafting, family and work. Slowly getting there and your list just reminded me that I need to keep it real. Thank you x

  • 53.
    Nancy M said…

    I’m printing out this posting, very timely :)

  • 54.
    Liz said…

    Thanks Ali, what a great post. Just what I needed. No unhealthy thoughts, less procrastination and instead using that time to work on my mental and physical sanity. I did just that today and I feel good !

  • 55.
    Kelly said…

    I am with you! My problem is this: when I first started scrapbooking, I made pages for any and every occasion, when truthfully many of the photos just belonged in a simple old photo album. In other words, there was no story there…just an excuse to use cute paper and stickers. A couple of years ago, I wised up and started thinking through my pages more. That’s the good part. The bad part? I now have albums and albums and a full plastic tote full of pages that don’t mean anything to me. They’re just taking up space and crowding out my good and solid stories/memories. What on earth do I do with the excess pages that, truthfully, I don’t enjoy at all?

  • 56.
    MelanieJ said…

    This post is right along the same lines I was thinking about yesterday and this morning. I enjoy scrapbooking but really need to find my focus and direct my energies in that way. Several years ago I asked my sister to come with me to a weekend crop. Her husband said, “why should she spend time recording memories when she could be making memories with her family?” I think of this often as I contemplate how much time I should actually spend scrapbooking. What is realistic for me with 5 kids?
    Also, this morning I came across an article on about organizing. They were talking about keeping or tossing. One particular item caught my eye–if you have an item that you’ve been holding onto, would you buy it today in the store? I thought of all the scrapbooking stuff I still have (I’ve been purging the 15th of each month and have gotten rid of quite a bit) and how much I’ll probably never use.
    Thanks for this post, Ali. And for all of your inspiration. You are a gem :)

  • 57.
    Erin said…

    Thanks for the reminders. It’s so easy to get caught up in daily life, that you don’t take a step back and realize what’s important.

  • 58.
    Ali Edwards said…

    I think of those as simply a part of the process – and they do have meaning. I have a post talking about this coming soon.

  • 59.
    jung a said…

    ali- how do you keep your tulips fresh long enough to open so beautifully? mine always end up wilting before then!

  • 60.
    Jennifer said…

    Excellent, Ali, thank you!

  • 61.
    Scrapycandy said…

    I think getting real is about maintaining my health. I did not realize while I was in my 30′s the big changes that occur in our 50′s. So, now, I worry much less about the story, and more about the present…dealing every day with good food choices, finding time to exercise, etc. When I have to time to create I do that. But no longer does that come first. I guess we go through stages in life.

  • 62.
    Kathy(kathyb) said…

    Thanks Ali for this inspiring and thought provoking post. I especially loved this part below. Its something I’ve been giving much thought too, and ” hearing” someone else actually say it is very helpful :)
    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.

  • 63.
    Lee Harker said…

    Dear Ali: Real is remembering my early days of motherhood (my youngest is now 18 soon to be 19 and creating a mini baby book for a friend at work who will be having her first child, a son, soon. I used a variety of products but found that your Sweet Baby stamps captured so often those real emotions I wanted to share with her. Thank you for helping me on my journey.

  • 64.
    Amy said…

    I am feeling overwhelmed with my cluttered craft room… so much so that I sat down and googled “how to get out of scrapbooking”. This post was the 5th result down! You post gave me lots to think about… I’m going to try to stay CONSCIOUS and in the moment and figure it out.

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