Wednesday, April 20, 2016

New Collection Provides Therapy Through Scrapbooking by Melissa Melanson-Dawes

When I first started using Created by Jill's collections for my personal scrapbooks, I found myself using her kits in ways I had never scrapped before. Initially I was drawn to Jill's collections because they were more than just paper, frames and flowers. There was something raw and vulnerable about her kits. The kits seemed to be a little piece of her heart, which she in turn packages and shares with scrap world. I had neither seen a designer like her before, nor have I since.

It was while using Created by Jill kits I discovered I could make layouts beyond documenting the every day activities of my family. I could create pages which looked more like the visual version of my personal journals. My scrapbook layouts were the ultimate hybrid of art journal meets traditional scrapbook meets secret diary. Who needed to pay a psychiatrist by the hour when I could pick up a new scrapbook kit and hold my own self-help meeting!

I have had many "therapy" appointments with a Jill kit. My first intense session was February 2, 2014. The kit I used was "This Can't Be Happening." I was having a horrible few months proceeded by even more terrible years. I didn't know what to expect, but it was quite the experience! I poured my emotions onto the 12x12 canvas and created a visual representation of what I was feeling. What happened next was startling.

Relief. I felt relief. Not the kind you get when you finally wash the dishes after they sat in the sink for a week. This was a heavy load off my shoulders, and my heart felt a little lighter. All those emotions I had been struggling with and kept bottled up were somehow transferred to the page. The symbolism was astounding. To unload emotionally allowed me to face particular problems head on and eventually move beyond those obstacles. It seemed the emotional burden was no longer weighing me down.

Two years later, here I am. I am struggling. A myriad of explanations provide my analytical brain rational reasons why I feel like I have plunged head first into a brick wall. I have spent countless hours trying to figure out why I am both mentally and physically exhausted. Staring at these new challenges before me, I cannot see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Just when I thought I would crumble from the weight, Jill created a new collection and it couldn't get here soon enough. I am quite positive Jill knew my soul was screaming because her latest collection was just what the doctor ordered. Therapy by scrapbook is back in session.

"Stranger in the Mirror" is Jill's newest collection. It is literally therapy in a kit. I won't go into all the personal drama I am facing, but I can assure you I was anxious to play with this kit. Sunday after church I had my husband snap a few photos of me. I spent two days pondering what exactly I was feeling. When I finally sat down to scrap, I looked at the  pieces of the kit and mulled over their symbolic meaning for my own predicament. Once I understood and pinpointed the feelings I needed to sort out, I started scrapping. This is the page I ended up creating:

Humor me for a moment. I want to tell you why this simple page is so important to me. Really, why all my therapy pages are necessary to include in my scrapbooks. As a mother of a teenage daughter, I realize I sometimes sugarcoat life in my scrapbooks. I have looked through completed books and see only happy moments, with the exception of a funeral here and there. With all these happy layouts I am reminded I should be preparing my daughter to face real-life challenges. I need to teach her now that everyone has a bad day. Sometimes those bad days feel more like bad months or years. She has to understand those terrible times deserve respect because they teach us lessons, prepare us for even bigger things and help us be more empathetic to those around us. When she gets to those times and the load feels too heavy for her to go on, I hope she will remember her mother went through those same experiences. Hopefully she will recall how I approached those trials. Maybe she will find her own strength to tackle those obstacles head on.

Here are some suggested steps, just in case you need a scrapbook therapy session:
1. Be honest. That does not mean you have to say EVERYTHING that enters your mind. Do allow yourself to be vulnerable and truthful.
2. Use a photo of yourself. If you are like me, you probably are the one always behind the camera and don't have many pictures of yourself. Take a selfie or have someone snap the image for you. Use the photo as is, or add some texture and filters. Changing the photo with colors and distressing is a great way to add another emotional element, as well as hide a few wrinkles and pounds.
3. Avoid over planning what your page will look like. Most scrapbook pages I plan. Therapy pages, I don't. I let the papers, elements, splatters and masks speak to me. Often I let go of some of my "art rules" and let the therapy layout just happen.
4. When you feel yourself let out a deep breath, that is a good indicator you are finished with the therapy page. Save that file and simply enjoy those moments of clarity.

"Stranger in the Mirror" is now available and on sale at TDC and PBP.
Mix and match the packs to suit your style for just $2 each through Monday, April 25!
Save even more when you purchase the Stranger In The Mirror Bundle and get the
Page Blendits for FREE!!
And because I think you'll really enjoy this Collection...
here's a coupon for an EXTRA $2 OFF when you purchase the
Stranger In The Mirror Collection + FWP Page Blendits
at either TDC or PBP!

Jill's Creative Team prepared some beautiful layouts to help inspire you
(and not all are on topic!)
Here are just a few!
You can see all of the gorgeous (and some very raw) layouts HERE
As you can can take this collection in any direction!

I hope you have a wonderful experience with "Stranger in the Mirror."
If you would like to share what you create, be sure to stop by the Created by Jill Facebook Fan Group and post your page.
You never know when your work will touch another scrapper's heart and provide her a little bit of balm to calm her soul.

All the best,



Pam K said...

Melissa, thank you for sharing your journey with therapeutic scrapping. Jill's collections are amazing!

Morwenna said...

Melissa, all I can say is WOW and I love your layout!

Barbara said...

Love what you have written Melissa! I feel we all have life trials that weigh on us; some seen by the world and others not. How we deal with them is the important part. Teaching your daughter that life is not always fair, there are others worse off than we are, she is strong enough to move forward, etc. are wonderful lessons for a mother to teach. I agree that "therapy" with Jill's kits just happen if you just start putting things on your page not worrying that it is pretty or happy; just real!

Anonymous said...

Deep and meaningful writing! Thank you for sharing your deeply personal process, Melissa. And beautifully powerful kit by CBJ.

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