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Establishing Your Own "Enough" In Memory Keeping

One of the discussions that has come up during recent workshops is the concept of "enough." 

It's a word that has gained traction over the last few years in conversations and blog posts about how we feel about ourselves with the mantra "I am enough" resonating with so many of us for deep and valid reasons. For some people this is an easy concept to embrace and for some people it's really, really challenging - often because of the expectations we live with for ourselves or the stories we are telling ourselves about who we are supposed to be in this moment in time. Add in a hearty dose of Facebook + YouTube + Instagram + Pinterest "perfection" and finding your own enough can be a challenge.

"Enough" is a concept that can also easily be applied to memory keeping. It's a very personal, "one-size-does-not-fit-all" idea that can actually lead you towards a more meaningful relationship with this lifestyle/hobby. My enough might look totally different than your enough and that is a good thing. 

Your own personal memory keeping "enough" is a fluid continuum. Seasons of life come into play here as they so often do in so many things. My "enough" right now might be "too much" or "not enough" next month or next year. It's okay to change your mind and adjust your level of enough. The key is to have it in mind in the first place and give yourself permission to let go of some of the extreme expectations you might be placing on yourself in this current season. 

Knowing your own "enough" can open the doors to more joy in the process and more focused storytelling. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself about your own memory keeping "enough" right now:

There are so many choices in memory keeping these days - which is awesome because it gives you choices (which can sometimes also not be awesome if you get overwhelmed with too many choices). 

Maybe traditional sized layouts are just enough for you. Maybe monthly Project Life® documentation is enough for you. Maybe weekly Project Life® storytelling is enough for you (even if you aren't completing it weekly). Maybe just participating in Week In The Life™ and/or December Daily® is enough for you for the entire year. Maybe just typing up your stories and saving them in a folder or writing in a journal is enough for you right now. Maybe just participating in One Little Word® and focusing on your personal stories is enough for you. Maybe you want to do a little bit of everything and that makes you feel most satisfied. Or maybe you are simply in a dormant season where stories are being written in other ways (via the way you are living your life and the choices you are making for yourself) and a season will come again when it's time to document. There is simply no specific prescription for what you "should" be doing to get your stories told. 

Own what is enough for you right now and know that you can change your mind. 

Maybe you get one kit every month and use that to focus on a few specific stories and that is enough for you. Maybe you print all your own supplies from digital products and you're totally happy with that. Maybe you purchase new stuff regularly and simply love having access to lots of cool stuff. Maybe you are working through your hoarded stash of many years and enjoying it every step of the way. Maybe you don't buy products at all and just use words + photos. 

Again, there isn't a right or a wrong, there's simply your own level of enough stuff. 

Yeah, I know, I sell products. But I also absolutely believe that selling you a product that is just going to sit on a shelf or in a drawer is counter productive to my personal memory keeping values. I actually care that you use the stuff that you purchase from me because I know the absolute positive things that can come from telling your stories.  

Remember that having more products at your disposal doesn't equate to getting more stories told or necessarily increase your creativity. In fact, I argue in many of my classes that having access to less products actually promotes more storytelling because the focus is less on the products you have to choose from and more on getting the stories told. 

Own what is enough for you right now and know that you can change your mind.

Maybe you are choosing the super simple route of words + photos. Maybe you want to layer and layer and play and mix a whole bunch of things together and add a little paint on top. Maybe you are focusing on your photography skills and everything else is taking a backseat. Maybe you are practicing your writing skills and that's your current focus. Maybe you are super regimented in your documentation or maybe you fly by the seat of your pants and sometimes choose a super artsy path and other times keep it as simple as possible to just get the story told. 

Figuring out what parts of memory keeping are most meaningful to you is an excellent place to begin on your journey to establishing your own enough. Maybe it's the photos, maybe it's the stories, maybe it's the combination of the two, maybe it's a finished project, maybe it's the opportunity to get messy & creative, etc.

Own what is enough for you right now and know that you can change your mind.

Maybe it's enough for you to focus on telling the everyday stories at this time in your life. Maybe it's enough for you to just focus on telling your own story right now vs. anyone else in your household. Maybe it's enough for you to focus on limited duration stories (think Week In The Life™ or December Daily® or Day In The Life™) vs. an open-ended album that collects stories here and there. Maybe it's enough for you to focus on your kids or your pets or your parents or your partner's stories. 

To establish what stories are enough, think about the things you wish you knew about the people in your life who are important to you. What do you wish you knew about your Grandma? Consider telling those kinds of stories about yourself. 

Own what is enough for you right now and know that you can change your mind.

Maybe it's enough for you to take a couple photos a month. Maybe everyday is more your style. Maybe your iPhone has become your absolute go-to or maybe you miss your DSLR camera. Maybe you take 100 photos of the same situation or maybe just two. Maybe you, like me, want to enlarge every photo you use in a layout or maybe you want to crop them all to 2 inch x 2 inch. Maybe the photos are your focus right now and you are in a season of practicing.  

For me, memory keeping is a lifestyle - a way that I live in and experience the world. Maintaining and sustaining a lifestyle means being open to the ebb and flow of what is enough at any given time. It's something that you are going to have to figure out for yourself - trust me, it's worth it. 

What's your own enough right now?   

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37 thoughts

  1. jscales915 says…
    10/26/2016

    So simple & powerful Ali! I recently picked back up another crafty hobby and my PL weekly spreads took a major back seat and I started to get anxious & worried that I was going to not want to start again because I was out of the 'flow.' Enough can be sometimes be an excuse for me to not challenge myself to meet goals that is hard and I don't want to settle when I can be happier if I just exert a bit more effort. I'm going to print this post & put it with my PL supplies & know that I will get my jam back again when it's meant.

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  2. mrsb says…
    10/26/2016

    This really resonated with me as I recently became unemployed and have been able to spend more time on getting my stories told. However, I also know that I will have to make do with less time being enough time when I get a job again.

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  3. mamami says…
    10/26/2016

    Love this "maybe you are simply in a dormant season"
    I think sometimes it is challenging to make time, find the right mood, get started....
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and encouraging me to think about my enough and see my current season and let it be enough ;)
    And by the way, i just tried silkscreens and paint and it is so much fun - I can´t get enough!

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  4. lauracwonsik says…
    10/26/2016

    What a beautiful and powerful post. I love this so much. Especially the idea of letting what is "enough" change with life seasons. That flexibility is essential for staying with this long term. Thanks for this.

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  5. mimimcs1 says…
    10/26/2016

    Enough has been my "one little word" for two years for this very reason!

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  6. patowle says…
    10/26/2016

    I have struggled with this a lot in recent years. We live in a tiny house, I have no dedicated space to scrap in - ie, it all has to be taken out for me to scrap and put back when I'm done. I have a demanding job. I have 2 little kids, and another one on the way. I don't have boundless energy. I get envious of those who have more physical room and time in their life to spend scrapping sometimes, I'll be honest. But I've definitely come to this "enough" realization lately. I'm just doing PL, and even in that I had to learn how to streamline so that I can tell enough stories to feel satisfied, but not take copious amounts of time or stress about getting my spreads perfect or overly embellished. The fact that pictures and stories are collected in one space for my family to enjoy is the point. And I get enjoyment out of doing it as well, which is also important. And that's enough FOR NOW. For this stage of my life. For the house we're living in. For all of the hats I juggle daily. I've given myself permission to not scrap for weeks at a time because there's just too much going on. And then other times I let myself scrap for longer than maybe I should. It's definitely an ebb and flow. I will still wish for more time and space, but I'm not letting it get me down anymore. Thanks for addressing this.

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  7. teri0604 says…
    10/26/2016

    My enough changes with the seasons in my life. Enough now is my project life (Love) and telling the stories of this family of seven. Some days my enough is longing to do a 12x12 layout to let my brain relax in the process. My enough is always about words and photos two of my greatest loves. I am always inspired by you and how on the hard days I can memory keep simply. Easier days let me dig deeper to tell our story through my eyes.

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  8. gailgk says…
    10/26/2016

    Love this post!

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  9. justrhonda says…
    10/26/2016

    This is so good. And you are awesome for sharing it.

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  10. aussiehostie says…
    10/26/2016

    Oh so perfect Ali. Wonderful, thought-provoking post. Thanks.

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  11. Ashleighsmom97 says…
    10/26/2016

    I love how you share with us such inner thoughts and feelings. Really makes me think and work harder to write those stories and get those photos to tell those stories.

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  12. sneakerwaves says…
    10/26/2016

    Bravo! An excellent article (blog post). You should work it over and sell it as a freelance piece for the appropriate magazine(s). So many creatives would relate. As I read this, I felt you were reading my mind. I was watching the video process you did with Simon's page for "UP" last night. I actually said to myself, "I think that would be enough for my page." But you kept adding little vertical word strips. And then I said to myself, "But those word strips add so much. When do I know my work is "enough?" Truly, I was perplexed last night. Felt antsy. Honestly, your post gave me permission, released me to know that only I will know what is enough. And that is enough to keep me plugging along happily with the ebb and flow of my memory keeping. You are such an inspiration. Thank you.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. katie1980 says…
      10/27/2016

      And that's the point of what is enough for you - Ali added the word strips and they are awesome, but if you were content that the page before that point worked for you, that's enough. Some days I have to say to myself "enough is enough", even if I'm just overthinking my to-do list, for example! I see so many beautiful projects using fancy techniques, embellishments, layers, etc. and I love how they look. But I know that's too much for me, my processes and my attention span. For each "bit" I only have a small attention span, and what I like of my projects is that they are clean and simple. So I am content to look at, appreciate and slightly envy the beautiful complex projects created by others - and then actually get on with doing my thing!

  13. kalibetsy says…
    10/26/2016

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This could be a metaphor for life. I know that my "seasons" have changed and I come and go with memory keeping. Also I find that there is too much product for me to not feel overwhelmed. So I appreciate your products and I purchase what I think I can use. Again, thank you.

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  14. dpowersfabian says…
    10/26/2016

    "I am imperfect and I am enough." - Brene' Brown. Thank you, Ali, for putting online what we wrestle with inside.

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  15. shannon80 says…
    10/26/2016

    You are such a powerful writer Ali. This post just hits home right now for me on so many different levels. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas with us all.

    This I will need to remember:
    "often because of the expectations we live with for ourselves or the stories we are telling ourselves about who we are supposed to be in this moment in time. Add in a hearty dose of Facebook + YouTube + Instagram + Pinterest "perfection" and finding your own enough can be a challenge."

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. hgauvin says…
    10/26/2016

    Wow! Definitely a thought-provoking post. I took a break from telling stories for a few years. Now that I'm back into it, I want to get rid of all of the products that I have and don't use. Too many options paralyzes me and keeps me from telling my stories. I love what Ali says about "what stories are enough for you" and writing about what you wish you knew about your ancestors. I LOVE to read about everything my grandmother, grandfather, etc wrote about their lives - the cost of things, what they did all day, what they did for fun. I love all the mundane things which is why I write that stuff down. Your stories aren't boring, your lives aren't boring so write it down! Great post Ali.

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  17. jchurch2 says…
    10/26/2016

    Wow, Ali, you must be psychic. I have spent the last 10 days figuring out exactly this dilemma..what is enough for me? I am loving the hybrid class, but sometimes feel like my brain is going to explode. HA! I have been biting off more than I can chew and the result is a complete overwhelm. Too much stuff, too many choices, too many projects on the go. It has paralyzed me. I am deciding what to move ahead with and what to let go...and not feel at all guilty about it. I am actually considering the word, "enough" for my OLW next year...if I can do it. Your post is just so timely for me. Thank you.

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  18. scrapfin1 says…
    10/26/2016

    This really is timely for me. I am currently struggling with "enough". I have too much product, and figuring out how much is enough. How many stories do I want to tell. Im behind (was in a "dormant season" , so I don't have enough ye.t I want to get caught up so I need to fill satisfied with whats enough? I like your theory of season of memory making.
    This was a great post - thought provoking.

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  19. AlizaD says…
    10/26/2016

    This is a good one, Ali. I have definitely taken to heart comments you have made in some of your videos about "seasons" in storytelling. It has allowed me to finally try Project Life, and to keep going with it or leaving it for a while. There are different kinds of stories in PL than in my 12x12 layouts, and I like them both.

    I have been in an "ebb" period of memory keeping, for the first time in many years. And, I am feeling very at peace with that. It's an ebb period, partly because it's a busy time of year. In part,too, because I had been over-scheduled with work, family, home, community, hobbies, and I needed to clear as much off my plate as possible, so that I could re-calibrate and regain my balance. And finally, my older son left home this year, and those feelings have been so much and so raw. I feel like if I start to tell our every day stories, I will keep coming back to this big change. I have not been quite ready to do that yet. But I feel myself getting there. My hands are getting antsy to play with photos and paper again. Tomorrow's DITL is a perfect sized nugget of a project, and I am excited to return to snapping photos throughout the day.

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  20. nashonne says…
    10/26/2016

    Great post! I saw myself in it and am content with what is "enough" for me.

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  21. PrinzessinN says…
    10/27/2016

    Thank you Ali for this great post. You are so right.

    I am at a time where I have not as much time for crafting as wished. Our baby boy came to our lives and it is so busy right now. I am taking lots of pictures, but I am struggeling with my project life. Hopefully I can catch up because I love to document our everyday life.

    Thanks again for your words.

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  22. elisai says…
    10/27/2016

    my enough is using pocket pages to capture the month. i find it more flexible to scrap by month instead of week. that way the spread could be one page, 2, 4, whatever. i'm a hybrid scrapbooker, so i love my stash and my digital items. and i get to it when i get to it. i'm done stressing over "being behind." and that's enough for me!

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  23. SusanBowers says…
    10/27/2016

    Enough would make a great story kit.

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  24. Lize says…
    10/27/2016

    Oh yes, definitely something I'm thinking about. I wanted to stop PL as of this year, but ended up continuing. Now I'm considering the same thing for next year. Mainly because I want to avail more time and finances to persue drawing, painting & pottery. But all I want to do right now is memory keeping (maybe it's avoidance behaviour, or an easier route) . Also hard to think that there might be a year or many not covered by Project Life. But then, when my kids were little, I only took photo's, and it's as rewarding, if not more, to do these albums years later.

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  25. picki56 says…
    10/27/2016

    I used to do weekly project life until it started to stress me out. I have three kids now and monthly works out really well. I also do traditional layouts throughout the year with stories I really want to tell and couldn't include in the monthly spread. Those traditional layouts are few and far between right now but I don't let myself get stressed about it. I simply keep a journal with what I want to tell and when the time is right and I have more of it I will tell those stories too. I love traditional layouts and always have so I can't imagine ever giving those up all the way. They make me happy.

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