I first met Ali Edwards in 2007, in Las Vegas of all places. She was a contributing editor for Creating Keepsakes magazine (and also generally a scrapbook superstar) and I was a huge fan of hers and a finalist in the magazine’s Scrapbooker of the Year contest. (This was the year Liz Kartchner, of Dear Lizzy fame, won!) I don’t remember many details – I committed scrapbook sin and neglected to journal about that whole experience real-time – but I’m 100% certain I spent the whole trip all starstruck and silly, meeting these idols of mine, like HOW IS THIS REAL LIFE.
Over the next year or so, I was lucky enough to be part of the creative team for the magazine and got to take some in-person classes with Ali when she came up to CKC Seattle to teach. But then hiking started taking over my life, and I was scrapbooking less and less…and then I wasn’t scrapbooking at all. (Luckily I kept up this blog, so my stories had a home during my rogue years.) I went through some short periods of making pages here and there, but for the most part, my photos and supplies remained untouched for a very long time…until 2015, when I was home with a beautiful baby and had time to spare during naps. I decided to look up Ali’s blog for inspiration, and saw that she was hosting something called Week in the Life. It was the perfect way for me to jump back into scrapbooking and document our new as a family of three. I bought the kit, documented my week, put together the album, and was hooked again, cranking out pages left and right. Then I discovered that Ali makes something called Story Kits, too – a monthly subscription where one word is the jumping off point for a whole world of inspiration. In addition to physical products, you get educational content from Ali – a main presentation exploring that month’s word and using it as a prompt for page ideas, plus several layout process videos where she gives you ideas for how to use the products and get those stories down on paper. So I bought a subscription and then I was really hooked.
I was lucky enough to end up on Ali’s Creative Team in 2016 and again in 2017, and one of the perks was an invitation to come to her inaugural Story Camp, a two-day workshop in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon. *hallelujah emoji*
As much as a weekend alone sounds kind of heavenly – I have yet to spend a night away from the kids (except for one night away from Nora in the hospital after I had given birth to Lily, but I’m just going to say that doesn’t count), which is kind of pathetic – I didn’t want to go without Lily and have to deal with pumping all weekend. So we made a family trip out of it. JK and the girls explored the markets and playgrounds of Eugene (Nora recommends the one at Skinner Butte) while I spent the weekend soaking up so much inspiration that reached far beyond the pages of a scrapbook, about storytelling and imperfection and self-worth and perspective. It. Was. So. Good. I love love love Ali’s online workshops, but I had forgotten just how powerful something like this can be in person.
– At one point, Ali described the albums about her son as “a celebration of Simon”. That is such a freeing way to look at it! Instead of feeling like I need to document every single thing that happens in my girls’ lives, I want to celebrate them and capture their personalities. (Now that we have cell phone cameras, we take hundreds of photos of the girls every week and there’s just no way to document everything anyway.)
– There was a lot of discussion about how we tend to think of certain things as too precious to scrapbook. We save stories, photos, and even products (hello BasicGrey patterned paper from 2007), waiting for that elusive perfect time to do it. That time does not exist, so just get it done.
– For some reason, flipping through Ali’s albums in person was really impactful. I loved seeing all those pages of various sizes all together like that, some simple, some all fancy and artsy and creative…just so many stories living happily together, waiting to be looked at and read and cherished.
– I realize how insane this must sound to non-scrapbookers, so another highlight was obviously getting to spend a weekend in a room full of people who understand why getting to look through ALI EDWARDS’ ALBUMS is a huge deal.
– Saturday night cropping & cocktails!
– Meeting new, like-minded, awesome, interesting, people (other adults! what even is this), including many of my fellow Creative Team members.
It has changed the way I approach my scrapbooking now. I’m using PAINTS and STAMPS like some sort of adventurous person. I even hand-wrote my journaling on a page the other day. Who even am I?! And I don’t care if that paint is smudged or my handwriting doesn’t look very cute, because when I was flipping through those albums of Ali’s, the little imperfect bits were part of what gave them so much personality.
Most importantly, I’ve stopped overthinking which stories I’m going to tell. It really just boils down to what do I want to remember.
I want to remember the different ways we work together as a family. (Title from Lens Digital Story Stamp, cut out with my Silhouette machine // Stars made with PAINT! and an old silkscreen // Phrase stickers)
I want to remember the little moments that make up our big life and the cute things my kids say and do. (Embellishments from the June Digital Kit // Numbers from an old Story Kit)
I want to remember the adventures we go on and the life lessons I learn while we’re out there. Apparently I also really want to play with my circle punches. (Fun Story Kit // Super cute bears from Shimelle)
TL;DR – thank you Ali, for reeling me back into this wonderful world of memory-keeping, and thank you Katie, for organizing this event. It was perfect.
Ali and Katie are hosting another Story Camp in October and the registration opens tomorrow – the last one sold out in…two minutes, I think it was? So if you want a spot, I recommend hitting refresh like whoa on June 27, 2017, at 10am PST.