Guest Post : Being True To Yourself by May Flaum


I could sweat any number of imperfections about myself in any number of areas in life.

One day I discovered that those after school specials were right – you should just be yourself. Since discovering this about my scrapbooking (and therefore life in general) I’ve become a happier person. Instead of hiding my flaws or pretending I never fail I lay it all out for the world to see. The bottom line? I believe in being true to myself and that the world would be a much happier place if we all did this a bit more. Instead of worrying about what the other people are doing, I’m going to live my live being the best me I can be.

There are many people I think I’d like to be more like. I’d love to be smarter, funnier, thinner, have hair that’s great every day, and be able to keep my studio neat and clean. While some things are positive to aspire to, I have learned that they can also be harmful. I have been scrapbooking nearly my whole life, and it wasn’t until I became aware of the scrapbook magazines and on-line galleries that it occurred to me that maybe my way wasn’t good enough. I went through a lengthy period where I’d create with other people in mind. Where using the “coolest” stuff was more important than the story and when it was a competition to be as good as some other scrapbooker. In short, it was a sad period of time when scrapbooking was stressful and not a whole lot of fun. I felt trapped and the pages I made during that time are the most uninspired and generic pages I’ve ever made. Looking back I far prefer my glittery themed stickers and white paper only pages because those had heart, and those were mine.

My problem wasn’t that I was new to scrapbooking or learning the how-to, no the problem was that I was too busy following other people around, going with whatever was trendy, and ignoring what *I* wanted from my layouts. I was so concerned with how others would view my pages, and that I be more like other people that I lost myself. One day a switch in my brain flipped, and I realized that I needed to stop worrying about how to be more like other people, and just be me.

As simple as that sounds, it really is the key to both success and happiness in scrapbooking.

How can you do this? I think it is different for each of us, as we are each unique. For me, simply accepting that things didn’t have to be “good enough” for anyone but me and cutting out the pressure of wondering if anyone else would like my pages was all I needed. I finally cleared my head of all the chatter and insecurity and went with my own instincts. This isn’t to say I don’t stumble – of course I do! I’ll catch myself wishing to be more and I stop. Evaluate it. Am I wanting to improve myself because I’d like to aspire to something, or am I trying to be more like someone else or fit in? The answer determines if I work on it or let it go.

I have been trying to figure out how to share some layouts that are both new and represent me at this moment. I decided the best thing to do, the most organic method to get results was simply to scrap for fun and just because. No rules, no agenda, just pull out some photos and go with inspiration. I spent a few hours locked away here in my studio with a smile on my face and enjoying every inspired moment.

First I scrapped a pair of photos that were taken about a week ago and that make me smile so very much. Once upon a time I would have shoved these to the back of the photo box – today I both embrace and love the absolute imperfection of the photos. The pureness of the moment, the reality of how it’s our life right now, and how the memory makes my heart happy. I just kept grabbing stuff and adding it, and the final page turned out exactly as I hoped it would. I do feel it’s only fair to tell you now that I mess up my journaling every time. No matter how simple I skip a letter or get writing too fast and don’t do a letter well enough and I have to correct it. I’m ok with that flaw.


Supplies: Core’dinations cardstock; Jenni Bowlin patterned paper and lrg button; Tim Holtz Wild Honey Ink pad, tickets, staples, and filmstrip; Studio Calico Fabrip strip; Little Yellow Bicycle clover button; felt circle; Catslife Press stamp; Bella Blvd stickers; Prima flower; Jillibean Soup ‘laugh’ and ‘what’ stickers; Sakura micron pen; other- sandpaper and small buttons

Next I decided to pull out some new goodies and just play. I painted the background and stuck my photo down and just went to town. Ok so I did make a fatal error…


I stuck the photo down before the paint was dry and the paper warped under it and it’s all warped looking from the side. Tragedy? No, just reminded me to slow down and it looks lovely within my scrapbook – nobody would realize it had such a flaw from the front view and the page protector will nicely smoosh it down into place. I’m all about hand crafted and beautiful imperfection and I know I’ll love this layout just as much as any other because I was creating with love in my heart.


Supplies: Kaiser Craft paper, stickers, pearls, and paint; Melody Ross for GCD Studios chipart tools, E, epoxy sticker, felt circle, border strip, and journaling card, American Crafts pen

Finally I was cleaning up a few things to prepare for my next layout when these images of my younger daughter from last summer fell onto my American Crafts Botanique paper and I realized it had the perfect color palette to compliment them. This is a layout that was fun and enjoyment at it’s best. Stitching, lots of little goodies, even my signature cookie cutter made it into the page.

Cookie cutter

I have a set of cookie cutters (circle) that I love to utilize in my crafting. They live here in my studio and I use them with paint, ink, or as a template to cut out paper with my craft knife. The uses are endless – and one of my favorite applications is to create a custom journaling circle as I have in this page. I just laid scraps of paper over my photo and other areas I didn’t want paint to show up, painted the cookie cutter rim, and stamped.


Supplies: American Crafts papers, thickers, flower die cuts, glitter button. and rub-ons, brad, and pen; Jillibean Soup fabric flower; Adornit black letters; Tim Holtz metal flower and fastener; Claudine Hellmuth paint; Catslife Press stamps; other – thread and cookie cutter

At the end of the day I had three different layouts completed with only my own preferences in mind. I love that whether I want to focus on storytelling, photo and memory preserving, the creative process and artistic challenges, or a little bit of everything I can.

I encourage you to take charge of your scrapbook supplies and use them how you see fit. As far as I’m concerned if you’re having fun and enjoying the process it’s all good. There is no right or wrong way to scrapbook, and you should never feel the need to scrap the way someone else would because you think it’s the correct way.

Go forth and scrap for you. If that means wall to wall photos or full page stories, vacations only or every minute detail of life, loads of stickers and product or little more than cardstock – if it’s made by you it’s going to be amazing.


ABOUT MAY : May Flaum is a self described romance loving, pj pants in the afternoon wearing, sparkle loving woman who lives with her husband and two daughters. The mere thought of breaking crafting rules puts a gleam in her eyes and she embraces both failures and imperfections. She is known for sharing both successes and wild failures on her (mostly crafting) blog

Her work has been published in magazines and idea books and she is the co-author of Paper + Pixels: Scrapbook Layouts. She has been a guest designer for a number of companies and has worked in a wide variety of positions throughout the industry over the last seven years. May has been teaching for Big Picture Scrapbooking since 2007 and enjoys each and every class she teaches. Currently she is at home developing her next class, designing for Scarlet Lime kits, and working on her next article as a contributing writer for

If you would like to ask May a question, find out what she’s up to in her crafty bat cave, or just say hi you can e-mail her at [email protected] She is known for keeping her e-mail on and open most of the day and shamelessly admits to loving the ‘bing bong’ sound of new mail.

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