Thursday, June 6, 2013

Living with Scrapbooking Guilt... Freedom from the Negativity

Scrapbookers deal with a boatload of guilt around shopping, spending, organizing and using their stash.  In fact, guilt is such a big issue, that you can find a thread on just about every page of the scrapbooking message boards that addresses this issue in one way or another.
This is an indiscriminate snapshot of page 1 from 2peas MB, 2:30ish on 6/6/13.
I have definitely struggled with these issues for most scrapbooking life but I now have a strategy I use to dispel my guilt when it pokes its nasty, little, bitchy head into my creative mojo.
Created by Mariah at Giggles and Galore
I have accepted that shopping, owning, organizing, rediscovering, contemplating and reorganizing is a part of MY scrapbooking experience. (Notice I left out cleaning...while it is necessary, I consider it like finding a bathroom at the have to do it but wish you didn't, and you definitely don't write about it in your postcards.) I love all of those tasks (more so when I am in the mood and have the time.) So, when I start to feel unsure about my supply situation and production levels, I compare "frequent uninterrupted scrapbooking time" to "a 1 week vacation in Hawaii" in order to see how the experiences measure up. 

Regular, Concentrated Scrapbooking Time vs A Week in Hawaii. 
 (based on spending the same amount of $ on scrapbooking supplies, classes and craft space over the year vs. air, hotel, car, food, tourist activities in Hawaii)  
I compare the Shopping experience in craft, hardware and thrift stores vs. gift shops in Hawaii  

I compare Owning crafty tools and products vs. photos and memories of the trip (OK, this is a tough one but it could rain or I could get my period)  

I compare Organizing my craft supplies vs. organizing my trip (logistics, money, tours and meals)  

I compare Rediscovering my old supplies vs. rediscovering that my husband gets really sunburned, even with sunblock.  

I compare Contemplating how I can use my products vs. contemplating what my body would look like if I only ate pineapple during our vacation.   

I compare Reorganizing my supplies so I know where everything is vs. reorganizing our return flight plans because we are detained at airport security for bringing a couple counterfeit Kate Spade purses home for my next door neighbor.

For me, scrapbooking wins every time.  (We just take local trips for our family vacations and since we drive, I even get to bring scrapbooking supplies!) I let go of my guilt and as they say...scrap on.  It is one of my favorite things to do in the whole wide world.  I'd choose it over travel.  I'd choose it over going out to a fancy dinner. I'd choose it over designer clothes.  This is where I put my money, free time and the energy I have left over after all of my "get to's", "to do's" and "have to's" (ie, family - gym - cleaning house).  Other people buy state-of-the-art bikes, restore old cars or collect stamps - I just wonder if their Message Boards are filled with guilt and self condemnation?  (Now that I'm thinking about it, I really do wonder... add that to the to do's.)

Warning! Enabler Alert! Or maybe not. Maybe this is a wake up call. It all depends on how you answer the next 20 questions...

  1. How often to you scrapbook, craft, do projects that utilize your stash?
  2. Do you have enough room in your house to store your craft supplies?
  3. Do you know what you actually own?
  4. Are your supplies organized enough that if you needed something, you would be able to find it? ("Eventually" counts as a yes if you would actually be willing to look that long.)
  5. Does your stash motivate you to get crafty or overwhelm you so you feel paralyzed.
  6. Are you stingy with your supplies, even with yourself, or do you use and share what you have?
  7. Do you ignore your project ideas or alter projects because you don't want to use some of your stash?
  8. Do you retreat from trying a new idea or duplicating an exciting project because you don't want to waste product on your "learning curve"?
  9. Is your craft area and/or storage bulging or disorganized with the bits, pieces and scraps leftover from this or that project?
  10. Do you own crafting tools that you don't really know how to use because you don't want to dip into your supplies to find out what it can do?
  11. Do you buy stuff just because you have a 40% off coupon?
  12. Do you buy extra such-in-such's "just in case " every time you shop?
  13. When you experience buyers remorse, do you actually return the item you no longer want?
  14. Do you use colors, trends, and collections even after they are no longer in style?
  15. Do you spend more time organizing (folding in) your new purchases than you do crafting/ creating?
  16. Do you feel your craft abilities expanding over time because of your new purchases?
  17. Do you shop in hopes that someday, "the moon and the sun will align" and you will learn the techniques, styles, become artistically adventurous?
  18. Are you more excited about the possibilities than you are about what you do?
  19. Are you afraid to craft because you won't measure up/"will discover you don't have talent" and then you will feel bad about yourself?
  20. Do you learn about new techniques/ mediums/ styles, then buy everything an enthusiast would own before you even know if you like it or not?
These are hard questions to answer honestly, but keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers. Here are mine:
The truth is that only you can determine if your situation is or isn't working.  I will tell you this; the only reason I could write these questions is because I have experienced every one of those scenarios. 

As silly as it may seem to the non-crafter, going through the feelings attached to those questions can be agonizing.  The first 4 or 5 of my "hard-core" scrapbooking years, I struggled over my competency and shopped at my paralysis. I kept thinking, "if I buy this such-n-such, I'll finally start that project" or worse; "this such-n-such is so expensive, that I will HAVE to use it."  

Even after attending a couple CKU's I was steeping with self doubt.  I used to panic in classes when I fell behind or my project didn't look exactly like the teachers.  But the worst, was looking around and seeing other student's work.  Every creation seemed better than mine. Many participants veered from the lesson plan entirely and created incredible variations of the project (which was just like a punch in the gut.)  I'd only find peace when, after scanning the room, I discovered one project that I thought was "less good" than mine. At the end of every workshop I'd fretfully wait for someone to compliment my work.  More times than not, I heard crickets.  I'd rationalize the visionary talent by pointing out that they had a better assortment of supplies, and so I would buy more.

At one point I became so dependent on my stash to qualify me as an "artist", that I started taking pictures of my products.  How weird is that?
Eventually I got a blog and posted photos of the new things I bought rather than my work.  In retrospect, it is sad that I wasted all that time beating myself up and letting fear regulate my creativity.  Especially when I look at some of my older work and see that it was pretty darn cute... dare I say innovative?
I did this page in 2005 for a client. Some of the RSVP's came via email instead of with the RSVP cards and she wanted to save them.
It took years, commitment and lots of courage to plunge through that dark phase of my development as an artist (artist, crafter, scrapbooker - it is all the same in my mind.  The net, net is that you give of yourself through creating beauty.) Some of the products I purchased way back then have been sold on ebay but I still own a lot of them and guess what, I'm glad.  Here's why:

When I want to go outside of my comfort zone, I often start with something old.  Some of my favorite creations started with a vellum envelope, a charm I got from a charm swap, the remnants of an old rub on sheet, a deconstructed 3-D sticker and a paper towel I used years ago to clean up paint.

I also love that when I discover an "OMG" tutorial, 9 times out of 10, I have all of the supplies in my stash.  This takes a trip to the store out of the equation which means I'm doing that project NOW!  It won't end up in my "projects I want to do" box (this box is real and it is really, really big but not as big as my "to finish" box... that is another post entirely.)

Most of all, my scrapbook room and ALL the stuff inside is my little slice of heaven. My very own. I am so *GRATEFUL* that I have something in my life I am passionate about.  Some people go their whole lives without experiencing the joy of passion.  Others are passionate about things that are really, really bad for them. And still others have passion-schizophrenia because they get bored with the newest thing.  Not me. I flippin *LOVE* scrapbooking all the way to my core.  It gives me something nothing else can.  What that is, I cannot explain except that is makes my stomach feel whirly turly whenever I think about it.  So I feel fine that I spend money on my passion, spend time on my passion, get my passion all messy so I have to reorganize it, sometimes, just stare at my passion because I don't know what to do with it and I take pride in my hoarding. Squirrels save nuts, I save paper, because it could be a long cold winter and you NEVER, EVER want to run out of the goods.

And that is all I have to say about that...


  1. Thank you for this post!

    I am still trying to find my stride and decide how much stuff is the right amount of supplies for me. I recently went through a stage where I was buying INSTEAD of using (collecting instead of creating) because it was easier. And that didn't feel right. So now balance is my goal, but I don't want guilt to be part of it.

    My grandmother has about eleventy billion little ceramic birds. She has spent many thousands of dollars on them. She reorganizes them, arranges them in different places, dusts them, and loves them. She doesn't feel guilt for collecting them and she doesn't feel the need to USE them for anything else because they are doing their job just bringing a smile to her face by being pretty. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that.

    1. PaperPixie -Thanks so much for your Grandmother's example. I LOVE that - it makes me feel normal!- yes, yes, it can be really fun when I get into that state where I'm are collecting mindlessly but I hate the hangover when I realize I have all this new stuff but no money and no time to use it. Then I get free time again and you I am extra motivated to scrap because I want to rectify Like you said, it is so much better to have balance and NO GUILT!

  2. What a great post! As for the issue of "Regular, Concentrated Scrapbooking Time vs A Week in Hawaii," what does it say about me that I LIVE in Hawaii and I still choose to use most of my free time scrapbooking instead of being a beach bum? I'm so far from being out of love with this hobby. :) I'm also SO not tan.

    1. OMG - Jill you are hysterical! Hey, the sun causes skin cancer, scrapbooking makes you smile. Sound to me like you have it all figured out...AND you have an amazing view!! =)

  3. great post and i think no one should feel guilty, we do what we love and hey if my DH can spend $150 on a golf club then i can buy pretty paper. new follower, feel free to come follow me, I even have a give away going on :)

  4. You are so right! i hadn't even thought about membership fees. Now I'm wondering if I have a big enough craft - I'm heading to your blog right now!

  5. Awesome post! Great blog! Thank you for sharing! I'm looking forward to more articles like this. :)

  6. A fun post and so true about the guilt on the message boards!

  7. I LOVE THIS POST!!!!! :D My hubby knows that if I don't get enough sleep, I'm awful cranky, and the same thing applies to UNINTERRUPTED scrap time! For me, it's just like breathing, water, sleep, food ... I have a NEED to create!! I could've written your last paragraph, as my eyebrows are arched and my head nods in agreement!!! I cannot agree more. I love being so passionate about something that means the world to me. And sometimes others just don't 'get it,' and I feel bad for them. And, like you mentioned, I often have doubts about my own work. While I like certain looks or products, it seems every other scrapbooker I know is very into TH, art journals, mixed media ... and I adore the bright, fun, simple look of Doodlebug and Bella Blvd. I wonder if that makes me weird or not cool or whatever ... but then, I'm doing this for ME and there are no rules, right?!? :) Thanks for this post, I think you speak for a lot of us out here!!!

  8. thanks dude. I was feeling bad about not going away for vacation a bit. no more. (:

  9. Great post, I have struggled in the past but when I look at other friends who spend way more money on their hobbies or even just manicures or other things I realize I really don't spend that much for something that brings me great joy which is priceless.

  10. This could have been written by me... You must be my long lost twin ;)
    I was thinking about your article all day since yesterday, and it really brought up lots of introspection to my own shopping vs. creating behavior. Thank you for such an insightful article!
    I'm in a middle of unpacking and settling into my new art room right now. The room is maxed out of space so much that not a single new paper collection would fit... I had to store some other hobby materials ( x-stitching, jewelry making) in other rooms. Having lots of supies is a double edge sword: love having the materials to materialize any creative vision, but at times I do feel overwhelmed that I have to move boxes to get the supplies I need.
    On the topic of guilt, I believe women get socialized from an early age to be 'nice' and be more sensitive to the needs of others, where boys are socialized to be more aggressive go getters. When I spend a few $$$ on supplies I feel substantial guilt because it seems so self-indulgent ( that money could have went to my kids' summer camp additional classes for a few weeks... They NEED that for their social skill development where as I don't need the extra supplies but want them. So I feel mommy guilt...but my kids also need a happy mom! And scrapping makes me happy.
    Men do't feel this guilt, dh frequents a very popular triathlete forum where the members post their race bikes and wheels ( equivalent of a SB haul video) . I asked him if any one feels guilt for spending that much... He said 'never' ...then answered directly: I work hard, I play hard... I DESERVE these toys. Most men have this attitude. Interesting... Why do mostly women feel buyers remorse?