Project Life: Week 3 – Giving Perspective

Project Life Wk 3

Hello, Project Life!

I had a hard week.

I get overwhelmed when there is more to take care of than I can wrap my mind around. And all the while I know I’m happy and I love my life, but that doesn’t stop the tension from seizing my muscles, shooting pain down my arms, in my jaw, causing numbing sensations in my lips and mouth.

I’m prone to anxiety and sometimes that leads to a sadness approaching depression, but not quite.

So I didn’t feel interested in taking photos this week. I took a few. And I saved ephemera from much of what I was doing, sticking it in the pockets of my book as the days went.

Project Life Wk 3

Then it came time to put it together, and wow — that had a powerful effect on me today.

You know the old criticism that scrapbookers aren’t “real” and that we only share the good stuff?

Well guess what? What is real is how fortunate we are — most all of us living in 1st world countries right now are living an existence 100% unfathomable to most of the entire human race. Human existence for most has been one of malnutrition, hunger, violence, pain and sickness, poor shelters, and short lifespans.

So when I finished putting my week together in Project Life — I saw what was real.

Project Life Wk 3

I journaled about my struggles this week — though pain is relative, what pain we do feel is still real. But what my Project Life showed me that what is also so real about our lives is that we’re so unbelievably fortunate.

My difficult week included a trip to my massage therapist, a family trip to expensive coffee, new clothes, dance classes, a breakfast date with my sweetheart, and a short film that Izzy and my son helped make.

Project Life Wk 3

And those are just the most obvious things. There is so much brilliant color in my life.

I’m being authentic. I shared the reality of my stress this week. But today Project Life showed me the rest of what is truly real. And it made me feel so happy and grateful today.

Project Life Wk 3

This is something I could not have gotten had I only saved the usual stuff scrapbookers normally save in the hopes of eventually making a page of it. This is an immediate picture of how great my week really was.

Project Life Wk 3

Project Life Wk 3

Project Life Wk 3


Project Life Wk 3

I’ve become so enamored with having an immediated place to document the small stories that when I saw a note I had jotted down last December, I couldn’t bear to file it away in my box, which is stuffed full of hilarious stories, still un-scrapped. So I added my little December story to a card and added into a pocket for this week. It’s the black and white journal card.

Project Life Wk 3

If you’re on the fence about Project Life, just do it. Keep it simple, but do it! As long as you’re keeping it simple so it’s doable. I can’t imagine anyone ever regretting it.

  • Anonymous

    I love your layout but I love the realizations even more! 

  • Peg in CO

    Nice job Noell.  And a hug for good measure!  I hope your week is much more gentle with you this week!

  • Alissa

    I had a difficult week my second week of project life  (death in our family) and I was struggling with how to document it in an authentic way – it made me think of something Nancy had said in a recent PRT about how scrapbookers don’t document hard stuff because we don’t want to remember it/or because we already remember it vividly and don’t want to dwell on it. I finally got what she was saying, as I don’t think I’ll ever forget that really hard day, but now I’m grateful to have a place to to document, be real and celebrate the life we have. And I could write down my happy memories and celebrate life.
    Hope this week is better for you than last.

  • Thank you, Deanna! :)

  • Thanks, Peg. I’ve mostly been feeling better — much better, but not 100%. Maybe when we get through CHA the pressure will be off!

  • Oh, Alissa — there’s more perspective right there. I’m sorry about your loss. :(

    Did you complete that week of Project Life?

  • Debbie Piercey

    Thanks for this post Noell. We do tend to want to sugar coat things when it gets rough. But that is not authentic. Hope you get to feeling better. I have suffered from anxiety for years, and it can really throw your body out of whack! I did “Project 365-A photo a day” a couple of years ago, and it was a major commitment that I don’t want to take on any time soon. This year I’m going to try doing a month at a time, (With highlights…and low lights). We’ll see how it goes. The months almost gone! Best wishes!

  • Monica McNeill

    Love this observation & so glad that the process helped you after a rough week. I was just talking to my husband last night about Project Life and how the product is not really why I want to make sure I keep up with it this year even though I know when our third son is born it will be extremely difficult to find “me” time. It is the daily reminder to be an observer of my life, to be filled with gratitude when I look back at the week, to find the perspective that I AM BLESSED. And that is just the immediate benefit. In 5 years I will be so grateful that my eyes were open & I saw that my 7 yr old who is always writing books right now always ends with “Thank You” and I thought to take a picture because in 5 years I will not remember this tiny detail but because of Project Life I will be reminded of it. So happy to see you taking on this project.

  • tiffany

    I just love how authentic you are, Noell. It really is refreshing and inspiring! I ove the look of your layout/spread even though you thought it would be something less due to limited photos. We all have weeks like you had and PL is so great that you can make each week how you want and/or need it to be. Gratitude–you find it in unsuspecting places sometimes. 

  • Oh, I love hearing that detail about your son’s writing! That’s the kind of thing we tend to think we’ll always remember, but we just don’t!! Most of our life disappears and we only remember the tiniest bits.

    Yeah, when I started, I had no idea how amazing it would be! So glad there were people like you to inspire the slower of us to start!

  • Thank you! Yeah, it turned out to be a spread I love. What a nice surprise. And amen to your statement about gratitude!

  • Christy

    Thank you for the inspiration. I took the plunge and started working on my January pages. I may not have the budget to buy the PL kit, but I have plenty of stash and the divided page protectors. 

    I am sorry you had such a rough week.I guess though, that it sometimes takes the hard times to appreciate the good ones.

  • Kim L.

    You are so right about how fortunate we are, especially in the US.  After a mission trip to Kenya this summer, I am so much more aware of how blessed I am.  Even in the difficult times, I am still blessed.  Thanks for being real; something I’m trying to do more of in my scrapbooks as well.

  • Donna C

    Noel – you are so right about how fortunate we are here!  It’s something I’ve been thinking about the past few weeks, especially for women – the choices and opportunities that we have that weren’t there for our grandmothers and greatgrandmothers.    I really should try PL as a way of reminding me to be grateful.

  • Lori P

    LOVE your post. Appreciating your candor and you “keeping it real.” I think these are common struggles at this age/stage of our lives and it is nice to know I’m in good company : ) and that telling the stories about this time of life is really important. And congrats on 99 shows! Here’s to 99 more, and 99 more and 99 more… : ) 

  • Living in a developing country, every time I go home to the States, I have a hard time relating when people complain about their charmed lives (especially those that are working, own homes and are still vacationing during hard economic times). Though, I am as guilty of it as anyone and I totally agree that all pain is real and relative. Sometimes seeing other people worse off than me doesn’t necessarily make my pain go away or make me feel better but it is does make me feel grateful for my opportunities and choices. I find that scrapbooking and Project Life do help me feel appreciative and grateful over and over. Sometimes I think when I am looking through my photos, how can I ever feel disappointment or frustration or sadness – my life is awesome! 

    I do appreciate you highlighting that you included the reality of your difficult week in your album as it is inspiring me to include those struggles in mine. I tend not to because I feel like I am complaining and I don’t want to whine, but they are real struggles and it is the reality of life and as long as I include how I have come out the other side, others (namely my children) can benefit from it. I know I would love to hear about personal struggles of those who have come before me and how they have managed to come out the other side or get past it and thrive.

    Very good post. Thanks!

  • Melinda Kirk

    Sorry to hear about your struggles this week Noell and congratulations on your perspective, that is just huge and how fabulous that PL put that on a page for you. We had a tough week here too, Australian summer in full force, two small children and no air con. It was over 40 degrees celcius (over a 100 your scale) and when I complained to my husband he shrugged and said ‘meh, first world problem’.  Profound!  So many of our problems are first world problems and if we can weave a bit of gratitude into trackling that can only be a good thing.  I am SO, SO glad PL is singing for you. This is my third year and I have loved how this process reveals the truth of our everyday and captures the heart of who we are.

  • MichelleC

    Thanks for sharing your true life. It is refreshing to see real and not sugar coated.  Our everyday lives have ups and downs and I think we should document what is real to us so that we don’t forget that as the years go by. I think this kind of documenting can help us see even a rough patch wasn’t all bad and learn and grow from where we have been.

  • So sorry about your rough week! Yes we are all quite privileged but we have ups and downs too! Your honesty is awesome. I have done PL for a year and so far haven’t really recorded the bad stuff. I’m thinking this year I will be better about that!

    I also love how you used PL to notice the awesomeness that is life. This last year doing this project has really made me so very thankful of everything I have and do.

    To a better week!


  • Ciqi

    Oh, you´re wise Noell! Thank you!

  • Hi Noell, love your pages, lm lovin doing PL as well, but what l really want to comment and help you with is your anxiety, l have the same problems as you, mine has been due to hormone changes that started in my mid thirties, they call it peri-menopause,which apparently can last for 5-8 years before you start menopause, but the last 2 years have been the worst, l have anxiety everyday , and the only thing that has calmed it down is to stay away from sugar, l take a product called stevia, it is a natural sugar from the leaf of the birch tree, also take a mega B table and also B12, which has taken away the numbness in the lips and mouth and hands and feet, and also magnesium, and drink plenty of water to flush your kidneys, l hope this is a help to you and makes you feel better, l could go on with all the things that have helped me, my depression is caused by low progestrone, which all women start to lose in the mid 30’s, you can get a natural progestrone cream from health food stores,  l am under a menopause centre and get this in what they call a troche, low progestrone can cause depression, so can low in B GROUPS, and low in mag., there is so much more l could tell you, but l dont know what you’ve tryed or what you take, if anything, l hope this helps you, feel free to contact me is you want, ………kate

  • I agree that the system of Project Life is fantastic – the immediate gratification and capturing those every day things – truly! Not all so curated in my mind. I was touched by your realizations…

    However, I think we can all build our own system of “scrapbooking”, not necessarily with the project life framework…if that makes sense? Because we all work so differently… systems aren’t 1 size fit all. Just my thought! I really do love the idea of PL, I just don’t want to feel as if you can only do it with those products specifically. 

    I personally dislike product specific things, because not all of us have the access, possibility or inclination to buy :)

  • Alissa

    Thank you. Yes I did that week of PL but I only used one page – not a full spread.Thinking about adding a 6×12 insert to add what I mentioned above. Love the flexibility of PL.

  • Glee

    so true and a powerful message on all counts. imua! (hawaiian for keep on, go forth!)

  • Margie, I get you! After living in the Philippines for as long as I did, it BUGS me when my kids say we have “nothing to eat,” meanwhile there’s a pantry full of crackers, bread, pb. and j. cereal, fruit and veggies. They get no sympathy from me when I knew families that felt blessed knowing they had a cup of rice they could cook up for the next day’s meal.

    Izzy and always talk about how lucky we feel every single day. It was quite display, though, to actually see an entire week’s worth of an amazing life all right there in front of me, especially when my body reacts so physically to any bit of pressure I feel.

  • Hey, Kate, I do appreciate your help!

    I take D and B12 but not other B’s. I did test my blood last year and they only thing they found me low in was D, but I bet I would benefit from Magnesium, and maybe more a mega B.

    I’ve never heard of sugar causing anxiety and I don’t know anything about progesterone cream. That’s something to look into. And of course, water can always be improved!

    I’ll look into it!

  • Chalicat2

    One year ago this week, I was laid off from a job I hated. I was angry, sad, scared…my baby was 6 months old, what were we going to do, etc. I’d been doing Project Life for 3 weeks. And that week, I had 1 picture. But I went with it and just journaled about this door closing, etc. It’s cool that we can be ok with no pictures Ina week and just go with it…because it IS life. (I found a much better job 4 months later, by the way.)

  • Noelle

    Annoying…that was supposed to say from Noelle….I don’t type and click well from the iPad. Blah.

  • Congrats on getting a new job so fast in this economy! TFS!

  • Thestafford5

    Love Project Life for the same reasons you mentioned.  Thank you for being so candid and authentic – nice to know we all have tough days; even though in comparison to so many we are unbelievably blessed!  Like you said, Project Life helps me focus on all the little things that comprise this beautiful life.  I am striving to provide an accurate picture of life – that it’s not always perfect – I love celebrating my children and looking at the happiest moments, but I also do not want them to look at our albums later in life trying to achieve a “picture perfect” life.  I think it’s great for them to see the challenging moments too and how we work through those.